Monthly Archives: October 2008

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Medicine and the arts and the Joyce-diagnosed STD

On Monday I had the good fortune to meet the editor in chief of Hospital Drive, a literary and arts journal published through the University of Virginia School of Medicine. As a frustrated writer and an infinitely lazy doctor, I was excited to hear about this two-year-old publication. Finally all my thoughts about blood and guts have a place to go.

I love to read authors like the surgeon Atul Gawande and the neurologist Oliver Sacks who inexplicably moonlight in the medical world. But you don’t have to be an MD to explore issues of pain, illness, and the large intestine. Lorrie Moore’s knock-out short story “People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk” (PDF) stands out as one such medical drama written by a non-doctor. How does a mother emotionally orient herself in the last place a mother wants to be – the Pediatric Oncology ward (or “Peed Onk”)?

We need these stories (and novels and poems and essays) that marry literature with the unruly universe of the human body. Otherwise there are only a bunch of doctors poking the uninsured and no one trusts anyone on the other side of the scalpel and the only thing to read in the waiting room is Golf Digest.

Hospital Drive links to more established publications that share its same goals:

Ars Medica is a “biannual literary journal that explores the interface between the arts and healing, and examines what makes medicine an art.”

Bellevue Literary Review welcomes “submissions of previously unpublished works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that touch upon relationships to the human body, illness, health and healing.”

I encourage you to check out some of these publications. You might discover something you didn’t know about human nature. You might also find out if that infected armpit boil has to be lanced. Forget the doctor’s office – short stories will finally diagnose that burning sensation when you pee.

New Yorker editors eloquently endorse Obama

The Choice“* from the October 13 issue of The New Yorker.

We cannot expect one man to heal every wound, to solve every major crisis of policy. So much of the Presidency, as they say, is a matter of waking up in the morning and trying to drink from a fire hydrant. In the quiet of the Oval Office, the noise of immediate demands can be deafening. And yet Obama has precisely the temperament to shut out the noise when necessary and concentrate on the essential.

*Not to lessen the gravitas of this occasion, but why are the words “taco talk” part of this URL? Am I missing something? And does anyone else want to eat a burrito with Barack Obama right now? A huge, America-sized burrito full of hope and change?

Sign that my “inner dork” is transitioning to “inner married lady”

Lately when I sit with my Toshiba notebook in my lap for hours on end, I find myself thinking, “Is this bad for my ovaries?”

“George W. Bush was a much better pilot.”

Sometimes I just have to love Rolling Stone Magazine. It’s so unabashedly biased in its political views. Gone are the days when David Foster Wallace could express his moral ambivalence about the McCain 2000 ticket in RS. In this election the magazine is clearly taking sides. But so are the rest of us. Which is why I’m reading Rolling Stone online instead of Right Wing Rock Quarterly or Preaching to the Other Choir Dispatch.

I devoured Rolling Stone’sMake-Believe Maverick” by Tim Dickinson and its sister article “Mad Dog Palin” by Matt Taibbi with the same delight I usually reserve for reading scathing book reviews (even if I liked the book!).

“McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man,” [Lieutenant Colonel John] Dramesi says today. “But he’s still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in.” –Dickinson

Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation. –Taibbi

This is entertaining stuff. And isn’t that what journalism is all about? Making me giggle?

When I’m not crying?