I've been ambling around the shelves looking out any books by Doctors who have turned writer and I've come up with quite a few.I think they probably bring unique insights to their writing and we are lucky to have those that cast off the stethescope and pick up the pen.
This has been sparked by my current read of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Dr Vincent Lam which won the Canadian Giller Prize 2006.A collection of interwoven short stories by a Toronto based emergency physician.More about it soon but I'm reading it during my lunch break and it's proving ideal, enough of a distraction but not so much that I find it difficult to walk back into the surgery and concentrate on an afternoon's work.
I quickly found A Country Doctor's Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov.I've read a few of these and they are remarkable for their humility and lack of arrogance as I recall.On call as a lone practitioner in the depths of rural Russia in 1916-17, so pre-revolution and plenty of wolves which makes a change from the sheepdogs which we run the gauntlet of down here.Haven't killed one yet but it's only a matter of time, they love barking at tyres.
Then The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.I knew I had to at least get it off the shelf and confront exactly where I'd left the bookmark on my last attempt. Every time I start this I'm overcome (by p171 last time) to just go and sit on a balcony in the Alps and wrap a blanket around me while I consumpt along with all the other inmates.It's not lack of enjoyment that stops me, it's just an overwhelming lassitude, Thomas Mann describes it all so well.
Another favourite is When a Doctor Hates a Patient by Richard Peschel.
I bet you didn't know they did this did you? You thought they all loved you.
This is one of those books that links up medicine and literature, recounting true events in the life of a young doctor and flagging up literary situations that try and make some sense of them. Published in the 1980's this must have been one of the earliest of the medical humanities books, but an excellent way for any health professional to face up to their own "fears, hatreds and limitations".Back in 2001 this had become an impossible book to find, mine came at great expense from The Book Dock, Harbor, Oregon, is it still there?
There are plenty more docs I should mention, Somerset Maugham, Alexander McCall Smith, Oliver Sacks, Danni Abse, A.J.Cronin, I'll get to them eventually.
I've also found a UK doctor who writes. He's lined up both for me to read and he's agreed to do dovegreyreader asks...look out for more about Phil Whitaker soon.
Message for the Tinker If you go to that Dr Whitaker link turn the sound DOWN , the rest of you turn it up full volume and get the fright of your lives. NHS Direct may be able to help if you get chest pains.
Many thanks to Mary Cavanagh for the introduction.
Nor should I omit this GP because he's very local indeed.My copy of Country Doctor: Tales of a Rural GP by Dr Mike Sparrow has gone missing so I will have to get another one.