Showing 481 - 490 of 606 annotations contributed by Coulehan, Jack

Past Wildflowers

Charach, Ron

Last Updated: Feb-19-1998
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

This is the third volume of poetry by Ron Charach, who is a psychiatrist in Toronto, Canada. Charach's poems evoke a wide array of experiences and topics, ranging from surreal dream poems to images of family vacations, from an adolescent biker ("White Laces") to medical imaging techniques ("MRI" and "The Use of Contrast to Study the Spine"). Charach's tone is generally light, frequently insightful, and often surprising.

While "healing" poems are scattered throughout the book, one section ("The Calling") focuses on images of Charach's medical specialty, psychiatry. In "Psychiatrists on the Subway" the poet imagines an off-duty psychiatrist who "sets his ears / on the night table / and prays for a night of long silence / from a God who prefers / to listen." In "Newton" he invites the reader to glimpse the professional life--but with a grain of salt--as he muses about a colleague who "gave so much Electro-Convulsive therapy / he wore wooden cufflinks and rubber-soled Wallabies."

"The Naked Physician" presents an image of a kind and gentle doctor whose failure to be a good husband and father "will be recorded in the final light." Other outstanding poems in this collection include "She Will No Longer Take Her Food," "Equipoise," "Someone Else's Fire," "Labour and Delivery," and "Past Wildflowers."

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Brave New World

Huxley, Aldous

Last Updated: Jan-24-1998
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

In the "brave new world" of 632 A. F. (After Ford), universal human happiness has been achieved. (Well, almost.) Control of reproduction, genetic engineering, conditioning--especially via repetitive messages delivered during sleep--and a perfect pleasure drug called "Soma" are the cornerstones of the new society. Reproduction has been removed from the womb and placed on the conveyor belt, where reproductive workers tinker with the embryos to produce various grades of human beings, ranging from the super-intelligent Alpha Pluses down to the dwarfed semi-moron Epsilons.

Each class is conditioned to love its type of work and its place in society; for example, Epsilons are supremely happy running elevators. Outside of their work, people spend their lives in constant pleasure. This involves consuming (continually buying new things, whether they need them or not), participating in elaborate sports, and free-floating sex. While uninhibited sex is universal and considered socially constructive, love, marriage, and parenthood are viewed as obscene.

The story concerns Bernard, an alpha whose programming is a bit off--he is discontented and desires to spend time alone just thinking or looking at the stars. At one point he takes Lenina on a vacation to the savage reservation in New Mexico. There he discovers John (the Savage), son of Linda who had visited the reservation more than 20 years previously and was accidentally left behind. When she discovered she was pregnant (the ultimate humiliation!), she had to remain among the savages. John returns to the Brave New World where he is feted as the Visiting Savage. However, he cannot adapt to this totally alien society and, ultimately, he takes his own life.

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Harvesting the Dew

Schaefer, Judy

Last Updated: Jan-16-1998
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

In the introduction to Harvesting the Dew, Judy Schaefer poses the question, "Are nurses mere observers?" She goes on to reply, "in my view the nurse has a vantage point of not only observer but inflicter." This book is a collection of 60 poems arranged in three sections ("Day Shift," "Evening Shift," and "Night Shift") that correspond with three different nursing milieus and moods.

The book also includes an explanatory essay, "A Literary Nurse Bearing Witness to Pain," which concludes "literary nurses then are no longer anticipatory handmaidens but are a profession of men and women with their own highly valued language and structure for observation . . . Literary nurses will further define the caring that is crucial to the nursing profession."

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

This is a collection of humorous and insightful verse inspired by scientific articles published in medical journals, such as Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine. Pollycove is a "literary persona" who practiced internal medicine in rural Iowa for 30 years and "died from an acute coronary occlusion in October, 1990." This, according to the Introduction written by Pollycove's alter-ego, H. J. Van Peenen, an internist and pathologist who retired from academic pathology in 1990 and the publisher of this collection. Excerpts from the original articles alternate in the book with the poems that they inspired. The Literature is available from Goatfoot Press, 3910 Courtney Lane S.E., Salem, Oregon 97302.

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Tuberculosis

Abse, Dannie

Last Updated: Oct-02-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In the past, "tuberculosis" was a taboo word. The poet reviews the disease's many names and its history. John Keats said, "Bring me a candle, Brown. / That is arterial blood, I cannot be deceived / in that color. It is my death warrant."

For centuries so many died of tuberculosis; physicians were so impotent to help. Now, a patient accepts the fact that his chest x-ray has cleared as unremarkable, "as his right / and is right."

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Memento Mori

Spark, Muriel

Last Updated: Sep-16-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Seventy-nine year old Dame Lettie Colson begins to receive anonymous phone calls from a man whose message is, "Remember, you must die." Soon, her octogenarian brother, her senile sister-in-law, and many of their tottery friends begin to receive similar phone messages.

The novel takes us through a year or so in the lives of this group of eccentric elderly upper-class Brits and a few of their not-so-privileged servants and caretakers. As they pursue the source of the "memento mori" message, we discover a complex matrix of infidelity and deception, ranging from youthful love affairs and harmless perversions to manipulation and blackmail. In the end, though, Death will not be denied.

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Brain Scan

Skloot, Floyd

Last Updated: Sep-16-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The urgent voice in this poem tells the patient to "Be still." The patient is about to undergo a brain scan (CT or MRI?) and the poem consists of a series of instructions. Don't worry about the discomfort or the side effects of the dye, the poem demands, "forget that your cradled head / may reveal a hard secret soon," the only thing that matters is "the subtle / shading of mass, some new darkness afloat / in the brindled brain sea." [16 lines]

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The Virus

Skloot, Floyd

Last Updated: Sep-16-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The author knows that the virus's attack "is not personal." His individuality means nothing to the virus. Yet, for three years he has been ill, he has been "occupied by an unseen / enemy," he has lost control. Thus, being human, he must take it personally.

In fact, as a result of the infection, he is no longer the self he once was, but has seen "the banks / of self erode." Though the virus has changed the story of the writer's life, the virus does not really need him "to live any more than faith / needs a body of truth / to thrive." [50 lines]

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The Night-Side

Skloot, Floyd

Last Updated: Sep-16-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Collection (Essays)

Summary:

This book is a series of essays about the illness experience. The author developed chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) after a viral illness in 1988. Suddenly, this 41-year-old public policy analyst, who was also a successful writer and a competitive runner, was thrust into the world of severe disability. He developed subtle but extensive neurological deficits that affected his concentration and memory. For months he could hardly get out of bed. He discovered that not only was the cause of CFS unknown, many physicians did not even believe it was a "real" illness.

"Double Blind" tells the story of Skloot's participation in an ill-fated clinical trial of Ampligen, an experimental treatment for CFS. Other essays describe the author's experience with alternative medicine, including an intensive course of Ayurvedic "detoxification" ("Healing Powers") and a visit to Germany to encounter Mother Meera, an avatar of the Divine Mother ("Honeymooning With the Feminine Divine").

"Home Remedies" presents his comic experience with helpful calls and letters telling him how to get rid of the illness. Other essays deal with Skloot's learning to cope with chronic disability. A final section includes poems about the illness experience of several composers and artists (e.g. Carl Maria von Weber, George Gershwin, and Vincent van Gogh).

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Home Remedies

Skloot, Floyd

Last Updated: Sep-16-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This eight-part poem presents the wisdom of home remedies. The first voice tells the sick person to drink the juice of half a lime each day. "No virus can stand up / to a lime." The second voice explains the toxic effects of electromagnetic waves. Another tells him to submerge himself in garlic. Still another says to "visualize little men / in white overalls / scrubbing the lesions / from your brain." With regard to diet, one home remedy advises abstinence from bread, vinegar, dairy products, bread, corn, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, vitamins, fruit, meat, fish, and fowl. In the end the only solution is to "embrace your illness . . . . "[133 lines]

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