The Human Condition Curated

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Guy Glass on Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire

"A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the greatest and most influential literary works of the 20th century...we have in the character of Blanche Dubois a fully realized, perfectly convincing case study in psychopathology."

J. Russell Teagarden on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

"After first meeting as college roommates, Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm make their way through college and then onto New York City to pursue career interests...What starts as a cluster of four eventually separates into an orbit of Willem, JB, and Malcolm around Jude at the center…Through a fractured narrative sprinkled with artfully-constructed subliminal hints, Yanagihara reveals Jude’s life before he arrived at college. "

Richard M. Ratzan on Let Me Heal: The Opportunity to Preserve Excellence in American Medicine by Kenneth Ludmerer

"This book will long be a unique resource for students of the history of postgraduate medical education in the U.S. It will assist all of its readers to understand better how we got to where we are today."

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..."

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Total Database Contents

  • 169 Visual Art Annotations
  • 2666 Literature Annotations
  • 252 Performing Art Annotations
  • 94 Artists
  • 1706 Authors
  • 140 Keywords