Book: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
Author: Vincent Lam
Published: 2007 (Weinstein Books)
Pages: 337 (not counting glossary)
Don’t choke my brain with complicated procedures I have to look up when the whole point is that shit has to get done quickly to save some dude’s life. I WILL skim and I WILL not get a word of your drama.
Whew. Okay. Off my chest, so to speak.
Except for the one or two stories mentioned above, Dr. Lam writes perfectly serviceable literary fiction about his other job as an emergency physician. Reading about the medical profession always scares me while sympathizing with it at the same time because it reminds me how sleep-deprived they all are, from their decision to go to med school onward.
But these stories put human, if somewhat bland, faces on stuff like trying to keep up a relationship with another med school hopeful (that was the first story and my favorite), getting quarantined in the SARS epidemic, and dealing with psychotic patients and the night shift. And dealing with psychotic patients on the night shift. Nothing unexpected, no little inside details that really stuck out as epitomes of anything, but easily written.
Dr. Lam’s real life sounds a lot more exciting, what with the emergency physician thing and being medically trained in Canada and being the youngest writer to win the Giller Prize for fiction (2006) and coming from an expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. I’d read the shit out of that biography.
The book flap does say that his first novel, a “multigenerational family saga set in Saigon during the Vietnam War” is “forthcoming.” Great! Is four years too soon to start bugging him about that?
Also also also, a word of advice about ensemble medical fiction: DO NOT READ ERIC SEGAL’S DOCTORS. Not if you have my impatience for Bad Things Happen to Saintly People, total black/white value systems, and terrible, terrible dialogue. It’s like a soap opera on a bad week for over 400 pages. …And I totally read it like three times over four or five years but that was only because I could never convince myself that it could be as bad as I remembered. But it was. Always.