The Human Condition Curated

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Spencer McClelland on Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

"A family epic set in rural Mississippi and spanning several generations. Often described as a road novel by reviewers, the story centers on Jojo, a 13-year-old boy struggling to protect his younger sister Kayla from the disarray of his parents’ influence..."

Sebastian Galbo on Heartbeats by Melvin Dixon

"Melvin Dixon’s poem, “Heartbeats”, portrays the steady atrophy of someone suffering a fatal disease."

Jacalyn Duffin on In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

"Composed in May 1915, the poem was written by a Canadian physician soldier after he had conducted the burial service of a friend who fell under the gas attack at Ypres, Belgium."

Martin Kohn on Human Voices Wake Us by Jerald Winakur

"The 55 poems in Human Voices Wake Us fall primarily into 3 categories: biographical poems, poems about the natural world, and poems about the worldly travels and travails of a man learning and practicing medicine."

Guy Glass on Spy of the First Person by Sam Shepard

"This book is an unsentimental yet moving, exquisitely observed illness narrative written by a master.  An author who was known throughout his career for dealing with difficult themes, Shepard did not flinch from them even in the face of death."

Cortney Davis on Close But Not Touching by Jean Sands

"Sands’ poetry deals with sexual abuse, marital abuse, dysfunctional family dynamics, divorce, poverty, and a woman's struggle to survive.  And in Sands' case, to write about that survival."

Marilyn McEntyre on One Crimson Thread by Micheal O’Siadhail

"This collection of 150 sonnets takes us through the journey from the writer’s wife’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s, eventually complicated by dementia and overmedication, to her death and his early days of grieving."

Jacalyn Duffin on Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood

"Atwood’s novel is a brilliant contribution to The Hogarth Shakespeare project, which invites contemporary authors to revisit plays by the Bard. .. The exercise of using literature in a prison will appeal to readers of this database who are interested in narrative and its power in unlikely settings."

Shawn Thomas on Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

"In this most recent biography, Isaacson takes us through the life and times of Leonardo, highlighting milestones of his career, while also underscoring some of the seemingly trivial habits that were signatures of Leonardo’s personality and worldview."

Michael Natter on Stitches by David Small

"Stitches is a beautifully crafted graphic novel by award winning writer and illustrator David Small. The memoir chronicles Smalls’ life with chronic illness, focusing on his experience as a child and adolescent with cancer in the setting of an abusive upbringing."

Albert Howard Carter on Slow Medicine: The Way of Healing by Victoria Sweet

"Victoria Sweet describes her training in medical school, residency, and work in various clinics and hospitals. From all of these she forms her own sense of what medical care should include: “Slow Medicine” that uses, ironically, the best aspects of today’s “Fast” medicine."

Mark Clark on Letters from Limbo by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

"This collection of poems is a memoir in verse: it is a lyric and epistolary exploration of what it is to live in the limbo of an emotional and psychological ambiguity whose genesis lies in maternal loss, mourning, depression, and despair."

Gabriel Redel-Traub on Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky

"Oshinsky’s affection for Bellevue as an institution, for its physicians and for its hallowed place in the history of New York City shines throughout making the book both exciting and relevant for the modern reader."

Total Database Contents

  • 175 Visual Art Annotations
  • 2755 Literature Annotations
  • 260 Performing Art Annotations
  • 97 Artists
  • 1752 Authors
  • 149 Keywords