Excerpt from Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Stories

by Vincent Lam

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 362 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2008, 362 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Instead, she said, “I’ll jinx myself, talking as if I’ll get in. Don’t say ‘Doctor Ming’ or it’ll end up being a joke.” She looked at her feet and said, as Karl had once told her, “We have to dissect your study techniques.” The following day, Ming went through Fitzgerald’s December finals and pointed out that he had mostly lost marks through a flagrant disregard for testable trivia. She introduced him to her scheduling system, in which each week was divided into a chart with halfhour time slots.

Monday
7:00: Wake up, wash.
7:30: Breakfast and pre-read a lecture chapter.
8:00: Bus to school.
8:30: Lecture.
9:30: Pre-read next lecture.
10:00: Second lecture.
11:00: Review morning lecture tapes while eating lunch.
12:30: Relax.
13:00: Third lecture.

Ming crossed out each time slot as it was completed. Fitzgerald’s note taking had previously been limited to what he felt was conceptually relevant, summarized by diagrams. Often, details were not included in the diagrams because they did not seem important to him.

A tape recorder and a yellow highlighter were the core of Ming’s system. After each lecture, she listened to her tape of it and ensured that every testable fact mentioned in the lecture was included in her notes. While studying, she highlighted notes as she committed them to memory, until her entire notebook was a glaring neon yellow.

“It’s not that concepts are unimportant,” Ming reassured Fitzgerald, “it’s simply that they’re not essential to scoring top marks.” She had mentioned that her cousin Karl was a surgical resident in Toronto, but did not explain that this was Karl’s study system. Why should she tell Fitzgerald, an “academic friend,” everything? Each night they spoke on the telephone—always at the end of the evening so that there was no disruption of the sacred studies, nor a time limit. Conversations began with questions about the day’s lectures, but veered off more and more often so that they had to remind each other of their primary obligation to help the other study. They talked about what they would do, see, and allow themselves once they had fulfilled their delayed gratification of becoming doctors. Ming thought of the two of them doing these things together, far away from her family, yet she was careful not to refer to “we” while discussing these fantasies. Although everything was fragile and crucial right now, it would all be perfect once they achieved the state of being medical students. It floated before them like a transcendental and elusive plane of existence. They allowed that it would be a challenging profession, but it felt obvious that once admitted, the difficult thing would be done.

Occasionally, they ate lunch in restaurants that did not have many windows. Ming was careful to place textbooks on the table, so that each other’s presence could be easily explained if she was seen by any of her cousins or family’s friends, who seemed to be everywhere on campus. Dinner or a movie were out of the question. Between classes, they studied in vacant classrooms. Once, while looking for an empty classroom, they both reached for an elevator button at the same time, and after their arms brushed, warm, went silently into the room, sat down, opened their books, and didn’t speak for an hour.

At night, the phone sometimes clicked softly, and then the sound became hollow with a shadow of breathing. When this occurred, Ming stopped talking and waited for the phone to click off. Fitzgerald learned to do the same. If the other line did not click off after several moments, Ming and her father would converse briefly in Cantonese, and then she would say to Fitzgerald in a voice that was halfway between meek library mouse and breathless seducer, “Thank you for helping me with my study problems,” and all three parties would hang up.

The above excerpt is the complete text of the short story "How To Get Into Medical School, Part 1" , pages 1-30 of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. Copyright (c) Dr. Vincent Lam, 2007. Reproduced with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Dr. Vincent Lam

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Raw, emotionally intelligent and unflinchingly honest--a triumph.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.