Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Encounters of a Medical Imagination

We have just received from the author the new book Encounters of a Medical Imagination, hot off the presses from Trafford Publishing. Ralph Crawshaw's new work delights from the table of Contents to Further Reading. The former lists essays entitled:

On Paddling Your Own Camus
The Wondrous Uncertainty of Medical Spirit
On the Remembrance of Things Nearly Past
Cakes & Ale
On Saying Goodbye to Medical Politics
Wicked Medicine
The Humanity of Stewardship
I Do Declare
On Shredding a Medical Career
A Roose by Any Other Name
A Systemic Heaviness
Big Things Delivered in Small Packages
A Cruel Truth of Medicine
Ode to an Angry Doctor
The Willful Doctor
Will to What?
Never Forsaken

Billed by the author in his prelude as "a collection of fables," the chapters bristle with fanciful personifications of great men and women, characters who help our narrator discover "sense in a perplexing world." Notable "friends" include Albert Camus, Anton Chekhov, W.E.B. DuBois, Francis of Assisi, William Hogarth, John Knowles, John Lennon, Primo Levi, John Locke, Niccolo Machiavelli, H.L. Mencken, Florence Nightingale, William Osler, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dylan Thomas, Oscar Wilde, and William Carlos Williams.

There's something for everyone here -- including archivists! "On Shredding a Medical Career" opens with our narrator tackling a career's worth of patient records, all well past the destruction date. His physician's eye sees more than just numbers, dates, symptoms, and scrawled progress notes, and he experiences the tug that often plucks at the archivist's soul: "When sorting charts," he writes, "sentiment and practicality are often at odds, sometimes fiercely. Trashing records of the human heart can never be easy."

Indeed.

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