Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: Introducing the book: “Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue”

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Introducing the book: “Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue”

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Authors want to find readers and readers want a good book. It’s a two-way street, but there are often roadblocks, most notably right now the precarious position of newspaper book sections. One bright spot is the presence of so many excellent book review and discussion blogs. (You can see some of my favorites on my links page.) One of the things I wanted to do in my blog, which I also did in my Boston Globe column, was to help writers and readers find each other by occasionally turning this space over to an author to talk about his or her new book. It’s not an interview or a review, just an author introducing the book.

This time it’s a re-issue by Beacon Press of a book originally published by Penguin Books, “Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue.” The author, Danielle Ofri, is a physician, writer, and editor in New York. She is editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review and author of two collections of essays about life in medicine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, LA Times, Best American Essays, Best American Science Writing, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, and on National Public Radio.

In describing her book, Danielle says:

“’Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue’ grew out of my ten years of medical school and residency. All during my medical training, these stories were percolating in my mind and soul. It was only after I took an 18-month hiatus from medicine, however, that I could finally start to write them down. More than just describing the chaos of internship, I wanted to trace the emotional development of a doctor, how the inner being grows into the white coat. The book is about the “singular intimacy” of the doctor-patient relationship, one that has little parallel in other walks of life.

Bellevue Hospital is a crazy and wonderful place to practice medicine. It’s been my medical (and literary) home for 20 years now, and I suspect they’ll be carrying me out on a stretcher. People tend to think of Bellevue as a psychiatric hospital, but it’s just a regular city hospital. I’m an internist in the medical clinic and I see patients from every country in the world, with every sort of medical condition. There is a never a dull day at Bellevue Hospital.

Medicine is so fast-paced that there’s rarely time for contemplation. Writing, by contrast is slow and deliberative; it’s often only when I write about something that I have a chance to truly consider its impact. It is the special honor of medicine to be plunged into so many people’s lives. Writing offers the gift of being able to step back and contemplate these stories and their meanings.”

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Blogger Mim said...

Thank you for introducing Danielle Ofri. I hadn't heard about her and and work until I read your blog!

April 20, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Anonymous jsd said...

What a generous introduction to an author and book that promises an even more generous look into the mind and heart of a "real" doctor.

April 20, 2009 at 10:37 AM  

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