"I Like Big and Long," is the teasing title of an essay I wrote a month ago about my preference for expansive novels with big themes. Cutting for Stone, Abraham Veghese,M.D.'s first novel fits that description very well and I enjoyed the long read very much especially because I like novels set in exotic countries I've never visited, in thie case mostly Ethiopia. I also enjoy "true" medical desxsriptions, in this case mostly sugery. I have read some of Dr. Verghese's essays in the NY Times Science Section and always found hin a very patient-centric doctor. This, his first novel, is a medical centric story, there are four M.D.s who are all as brilliant and dedicated and caring as we all wish our doctors were [and usually aren't]. I was a little bothered because they were so heroic and yet it's like reading about knights on a crusade, they need to be truly good.
The story gives us lots of drama, the frision of identical twins who have very different personalities, and a goodly dollop of the politics of Ethiopia. Those are all enough for me as nothing is gauche or sentimental. Yes, all the dangling ends get tied up neatly at the end but that is a writer's impulse I understand very well. it's summer and this is not a sterotypical "Summer" or "beach" novel -- it's much better than that. Verghese is a multi-talented man, a distinguished career in medicine has somehow given him enough time to write essays, a couple of nonfiction books and this quite long novel. I hope he'll write more. I hope the titles make more sense -- I can't seem to wrap my head around the title. A minor problems.
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