Work Title: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
Work Author(s): Vincent Lam
355 pages, Hardcover $23.95
Reviewer: Mary Spiro Levin
When medical student Ming misplaces the head of her cadaver midway through dissection, readers should be prepared for a graphic, yet touching and often tragic, glimpse into the challenges of a medical career. Ming and her classmates Sri, Chen, and Fitzgerald face a variety of troubling circumstances on their intersecting journeys to becoming physicians.
In his first book, Lam keeps pace with each young doctor through the turmoil of romance, the chaos of the emergency room, the somber bedside of the dying, and the subconscious of patients, while maintaining a bird's-eye view of all the action. Relying on his experience as an emergency physician educated and trained in this medical setting, Lam creates a comprehensive and realistic image of how his heroes tackle each malady presented.
Using a combination of perspectives to tell their stories, Lam begins in first-person in one chapter, and then switches to third-person in another. He also incorporates three subordinate characters---two patients, Winston and Janice, and a nurse, Delores---to shed further light on his physician leads. Inner thoughts are set off in italics.
This literary device works, for example, when recounting the intensity of emotion and staunch resolve displayed by both Dr. Ming and her patient, Janice. Trapped in the throes of a natural childbirth gone bad, Janice makes a bold decision:
"The actual operation---you can do it even if I am awake, right?"
Why do I feel calm, having said that? It's me asking, that's why, No- not asking, I've made my offer.