BookBrowse Reviews Internal Medicine by Terrence Holt

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Internal Medicine

A Doctor's Stories

by Terrence Holt

Internal Medicine by Terrence Holt X
Internal Medicine by Terrence Holt
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 240 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2015, 288 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Internal Medicine is not only an account of what it means to be a doctor, but also what it means to be human.

When we go to a doctor we hope that they know what they're doing. We want them to be compassionate, and sure of an outcome that gets us better. We've read the news about doctors making mistakes, but we don't want this to happen to us. We've only got the one body, after all. We want the best care possible for it.

In Internal Medicine, a collection of stories stretched out over the length of one doctor's residency, doctor and author Terrence Holt gives us faith in that "best care" scenario, as well as hope that there are doctors like him in our communities. He begins his stories at the start of his residency in internal medicine, but they are not based entirely on his experiences. From the introduction:

In writing these stories I have drawn on what I thought and felt and generally did as a resident, but in re-creating experience as parable I have watched the narrator of these pieces evolve into someone else. He dealt with patients different from the ones I cared for, and did so, necessarily, in ways I never did.

In a way, Holt, looking back on his residency with the subsequent experiences of a full-fledged doctor, has a beneficial hindsight. It is clear that he has taken in what's important to him from his career experiences, and, after looking thoughtfully at each piece, shows them to us. By this method, Holt carefully and gracefully sculpts his words to the very marrow of their meaning. Under the surface of the simple language he employs, there is enormous impact that makes us sit back and think about these stories long after.

Take, for example, "The Perfect Code," the first few pages of which is a vivid, jarring description of what happens during a "code," when a patient's heart has stopped and a hospital medical team is trying to revive her. To get readers right in the middle of this frantic activity, Holt places it in second person. It's not him. It's you. You're the one with the paddles in hand.

Holt describes patients, from the dying Mrs. B in "A Sign of Weakness," who staunchly refuses an oxygen mask; to Mr. Jenkins in "Giving Bad News," who doesn't remember being given his cancer diagnosis; to the obese Marie's critical heart condition in "Heart Failure," who has a beautiful memory of ice cream missing from a cone. All that Holt seems to ask for from us, his readers, is that we take something that is meaningful from his stories, which might mean watching our own health or considering a hospital from the perspectives of those who give it life, especially that of a doctor with Herculean stamina, even without much sleep.

"The Surgical Mask," about an elective month that Holt took during his residency to be part of the hospice service, feels like the centerpiece of Internal Medicine. The patient is Sylvia Turner, ravaged by cancer of the nose, half her face hidden behind a surgical mask. Through this story, Holt shows that illness doesn't solely define a person. He sees – and allows the reader thus to see – countless paintings lovingly featuring parrots, all created by Sylvia before the cancer cruelly snatched her away from her art. In that moment, Internal Medicine cements itself as a book about compassionate caring, and reading it offers hope that doctoring can and should be done right.

Hopefully Holt will give us more books to ponder and to appreciate just like this one.

Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in October 2014, and has been updated for the November 2015 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Medical Tourism

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    The War Librarian
    by Addison Armstrong
    Emmaline Balakin believes in the power of the written word — books have changed her life. When...
  • Book Jacket: The Book of Goose
    The Book of Goose
    by Yiyun Li
    Yiyun Li's The Book of Goose is a story of childhood friendship between narrator Agnès, a one-...
  • Book Jacket: Big Red
    Big Red
    by Jerome Charyn
    Jerome Charyn made his name as an author of detective novels, and over the years he has taken his ...
  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Bell in the Lake
by Lars Mytting
The engrossing epic novel - a #1 bestseller in Norway - of a young woman whose fate plays out against her village's mystical church bells.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Our Missing Hearts
    by Celeste Ng

    From the author of Little Fires Everywhere, the inspiring new novel about a mother’s unbreakable love in a world consumed by fear.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

G R T Bad R

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.