Showing 21 - 30 of 78 annotations contributed by Kohn, Martin

Luis

Selzer, Richard

Last Updated: Dec-06-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

In this tale, Selzer juxtaposes the wealthy chair of the Department of Radiation Therapy, Dr. Arnoldo Cherubini, with Luis Figueira, a scavenger of refuse in the teeming Brazilian city they both call home. Cherubini lives in splendor in the wealthy hillside district, while Luis lives in a ramshackle hut by the sprawling municipal dump. What brings the two together is the discovery by Luis of discarded cesium, which had been inadvertently left in an "outmoded" x-ray machine taken to the dump.

Luis believes his discovery to be miraculous--a piece of a star. He buries his treasure each night, only to uncover and behold it the next evening. Fearing that the guards at the dump will steal his prize, Luis takes it to the home he shares with his sister and her family.

Soon, his avaricious brother-in-law finds the treasure and greedily sells pieces of it to the local slum-dwellers. Luis, with hands rotting, eventually seeks, but then refuses medical attention from Dr. Cherubini. The doctor makes a few half-hearted efforts to aid his patient, but returns to his insular world. Luis returns to the dump and dies shortly after in the arms of his lover.

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Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This short novel is based on the student-led Mexican uprising of 1968. The reader discovers that the protagonist, Nestor, is in a hospital bed one year after the government's brutal suppression of the rebellion, recovering from a stabbing at the hands of a "prostitute-assassin" he had confronted in his post-rebellion duties as a "yellow journalist." With plenty of time to think about the failures of the previous year, Nestor decides to finish off the revolution from his sick bed, and elicits the help of his heroes, both actual and fictional, to carry out his plan.

The various heroes Nestor calls upon include "the hound" from Hound of the Baskervilles and Sherlock Holmes; the Earp brothers and their companion, Doc Holliday; the four Musketeers; the Light Brigade; and various other anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists, including Norman Bethune (see film annotation, Bethune: The Making of a Hero), the Tigers of Malaysia, and the Mau-Mau. These characters are summoned by Nestor (and Taibo) as a means to revivify the "Movement of '68" that ended in the massacre of 49 students, the wounding of 500 others, and the detention of 1500 persons on October 2nd of that year.

Jorge Castaneda notes in the preface to this novel, "only fairy tales or adventure stories could heal the wounds and keep the promises of the streets . . . "(p.vii). It is the imagined hero's power to reconfigure events to which the desperate Nestor turned in his attempt to heal the past.

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Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand

McIntyre, Vonda

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novelette

Summary:

Although the setting is startlingly different, and the care provided is through highly unorthodox means, the healer in this science fiction story experiences in remarkably similar ways the everyday wear and tear of modern medical practice. Snake, a young female itinerant healer, has been asked to save the life of a young boy. Her attempts to do so, and her interactions with the boy, his family and community, and the tools of her trade (the snakes-mist, sand and grass) are detailed in the story. "Professional development" issues that this strong and complex character has to deal with include truth-telling, interfering and ignorant family members, self-sacrifice, and possible reprobation by her peers and teachers.

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A Nurses's Story

Baida, Peter

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The nurse in this O. Henry Prize-winning story is Mary McDonald. She’s been a nurse for over 40 years and understands fully that the new pain she feels is a signal of her cancer’s spread, and for her, the beginning of the end. The remainder of this story is a retrospective of her life as a nurse and most significantly her role in forming a union, thirty years previously, at the local hospital.

Deftly placed between her reminiscences are scenes of her children’s visits to their dying mother, and perhaps as a final legacy to her nursing colleagues, Mary’s attempt to convince Eunice, her caretaker at the nursing home, to unionize the facility.

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Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Treatise

Summary:

An extraordinary phenomenon began to emerge a century or so ago, which, as it proceeded, allowed us a glimpse into what a society would look like when most of its members, rather than a select few, lived to, or more precisely, near, the limit of the human lifespan. Now we are facing the possibility of extending the upper limit of the human lifespan. How we live within this new world will be the result of numerous individual as well as corporate (in its fullest sense--business, professional societies, religious organizations, political bodies) decisions.

Stephen Hall, through compelling and clear writing takes us behind the scenes and into the lives and labs of the researchers and entrepreneurs who are seeking to slow down, stop, or reverse the aging process--those who intend to bring about, if not actual, then practical immortality. Figuring prominently throughout the book are Leonard Hayflick, early pioneering researcher on aging cells, and the charismatic (and former creationist) researcher-entrepreneur, Michael West. Rounding out the narrative are commentaries by noted ethicists and the chronicling of the political responses to these scientific and business developments, especially in regard to stem cell research.

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Summary:

In the videotape, She's Finally Free . . ., Joe Cruzan and Christy Cruzan White, Nancy Cruzan's father and sister, tell the story of their eight-year struggle for the right to let Nancy die, after a January 11, 1983 car wreck left her in a persistent vegetative state. The Cruzans see their story as a means of enlightening health care professionals and the community at large about the concerns and frustrations experienced by the families of critically ill patients. After a brief pictorial overview of Nancy Cruzan's life, the remainder of the video presents a chronological series of vignettes/stories told by Christy and Joe Cruzan.

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Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Video

Summary:

Mrs. Tucker, Her Daughter Emily and Dr. Duff features Raymond Duff, M.D. as the storyteller. Dr. Duff was a pioneer in neonatology and produced many scholarly works in that field. One of his areas of research was grief and bereavement. However, his interests and this story go well beyond "grief resolution" to an exploration of the boundaries of the clinician-patient relationship.

The pseudonymous Tucker family and Dr. Duff share together a number of deaths and their aftermaths over a short period of time. In recounting the lessons learned from and privilege of being a part of the Tucker family "drama," Ray Duff reminds viewers "that although there inevitably is loss in what they encounter through their work in the health professions, there also is hope."

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Summary:

These elder tales symbolize the developmental tasks one must master in the second half of life. They deal with psychological and spiritual growth and maturity in the later years. The author defines a fairy tale as "a folk tale with a happy ending, featuring ordinary people in fantastic situations, struggling with basic

human dilemmas." Elder tales offer a welcome relief to the ubiquitous symbols of idealized youth so prevalent in our culture. And they offer "a new image of maturity, centered on wisdom, self-knowledge, and transcendence... virtues of an archetypal figure long overlooked in modern society, but equal in importance to that of the Hero - the Elder."

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Idiots First

Malamud, Bernard

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This is a story of parental love and sacrifice and of survival in a hostile world. Mendel, a poor widower who has raised a retarded son, has fought life for years. Now he is fighting death (personified as a burley bearded man named Ginzburg). Mendel’s last task is to assure safe train passage for his son, Isaac, to the boy’s eighty-three-year-old uncle in California. This Mendel accomplishes after scraping enough money together and after winning a final heroic battle with Ginzburg.

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Gardening in Clay

Valdiserri, Ronald

Last Updated: Aug-22-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Collection (Essays)

Summary:

A collection of twenty-six short essays about AIDS from two primary perspectives. Approximately one-third of the essays reflect on this physician-author’s personal response to his identical twin brother’s deterioration and eventual death from AIDS. The remaining essays reflect this pathologist/public health educator’s interest in confronting the epidemic on a societal/cultural level.

The author’s love of nature and gardening provides a sense of continuity throughout the book. The gentle yet strong voice of the author is very moving when sharing his personal experience. His voice, on occasion, becomes pedantic when addressing societal and public health concerns.

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