The Human Condition Curated

What's New

Gretl Lam on Cauda Equina by Riva Lehrer

"The artist, Riva Lehrer, was born with spina bifida...she paints portraits that focus on identity and disability." Also annotated is Sheri / Dragon

Howard Carter on The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal

"We go behind the scenes to consider the complexities of transplantation, to explore some kind of peace with death, and to admire many ways in which humans can find deep values in their lives but also deal with the stresses of human love and modern life."

Richard M. Ratzan on The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke

"Brooke demonstrated great versatility in his short career as a poet. There are striking poems on that intense moment of reflection when we see a scene as a stopped-moment, a transient still life distillation of the entire scene cum meditations on it "

Russell Teagarden on My Father's Brain by Jonathan Franzen

"Jonathan Franzen tells the story of his father’s slow and inexorable decline from Alzheimer’s disease. His story is a familiar one, and one that millions of people can now tell: at first the initial odd behaviors and memory failures attributed to various causes other than dementia, then the diagnosis and medical interventions to stem the inevitable, and finally the inevitable."

Marilyn McEntyre on Attending Others by Brian Volck

"This memoir of a life in medicine takes the writer from St. Louis to a Navajo reservation to Central America to the east coast and from urban hospitals to ill-equipped rural clinics. It offers a wide range of reflections on encounters with patients that widen and deepen his sense of calling and  understanding of what it means to do healing work."

Guy Glass on Performance and the Medical Body by Alex Mermikides and Gianna Bouchard

"This is a collection of essays by (mostly British) artists, performers, and academics on the intersection between medicine and theater...the 'medical body' of the title refers to one that is ’acted upon’ by illness or disability and/or by the diagnostic and therapeutic activities of the medical profession..."

Russell Teagarden on Walter Mosley's The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

"Mosley gives us views of the dementia experience that should expand our empathy for people suffering from it. He also challenges us to think about how dementia should be treated and about processes for access to experimental drugs without regulatory oversight..."

Audrey Shafer on Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air

"What makes this memoir so much more than an exercise in memory and a tribute to the herculean effort to write while sapped by cancer and its treatment, are the philosophical turns, the clear love of words and literature, and the poignancy of the writing..."

Barron Lerner on Kate Clifford Larson's Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

"Perhaps no topic in the history of medicine has been explored as much as the lobotomy.  Psychiatrists, historians and journalists have weighed in on this controversial topic, and the procedure has been featured in a number of Hollywood films. Yet there is nothing like a narrative of a specific lobotomy patient to draw us into the subject anew..."

Marilyn McEntyre on Vincent DeVita's The Death of Cancer

"The book offers a detailed account by one of the nation’s leading cancer researchers of developments in chemotherapy over the past several decades, as well as the recent history of surgical and radiation treatments in the “war on cancer”—a term he resisted at first but finally embraced with full understanding of its implications..."

Howard Carter on Jonathan Kozol's The Theft of Memory

"Kozol tells a multilayered story about himself and his father, a distinguished physician who becomes increasingly demented by Alzheimer’s disease, starting at age 88. A neurologist, Dr. Harry Kozol is able to diagnose with great specificity his own disease..."

Recent Tweets

Total Database Contents

  • 168 Visual Art Annotations
  • 2663 Literature Annotations
  • 252 Performing Art Annotations
  • 93 Artists
  • 1704 Authors
  • 140 Keywords