Showing 21 - 27 of 27 annotations associated with Selzer, Richard
Seeking redemption in the bloody business of surgery, Selzer's narrator tells several medical stories that humbled his surgeon's pride and refers approvingly to an atheist priest in a story by Unamuno who carried on for the sake of his congregation because "their need is greater than his sacrifice." Selzer finally tells us that it is in writing, if anywhere, that the elusive soul can be represented.
The Exact Location of the Soul is a collection of 26 essays along with an introduction titled "The Making of a Doctor/Writer." Most of these essays are reprinted from Selzer's earlier books (especially Mortal Lessons and Letters to a Young Doctor). Six pieces are new and include a commentary on the problem of AIDS in Haiti ("A Mask on the Face of Death"), musings on organ donation ("Brain Death: A Hesitation"), a conversation between a mother and son ("Of Nazareth and New Haven"), and the suicide of a college student ("Phantom Vision").
Amidst the desolate pampas of Argentina, two nameless fugitives serendipitously meet and fall deeply in love. The woman, an orphan, is running from her tragic past and sheltered life. The man, a gaucho, is fleeing from the seven vengeful brothers of a man he killed during a fight.
Although both are emotionally wounded and isolated, they become joined by the simple act of cleaning and dressing the deep laceration of the gaucho’s arm. When they discover the ecstasy and contentment of love, their passion is abruptly and violently challenged by the gaucho’s injured arm which becomes infected with tetanus.
The woman faithfully cares for her suffering lover who silently endures the fever, severe muscle spasms, and wasting of tetanus before succumbing to the painful death of lockjaw. Ironically his face is paralyzed with a twisted smile due to the persistent muscle contractions.
The brothers of the man whom the gaucho had killed arrive too late to exact their revenge so they set fire to the couple’s farmhouse and burn it to the ground. The woman places a handful of her lover’s burning ashes in her mouth thus preserving his remains and uniting his spirit with hers forever.
Pipistrel is a tale about difference and lack of understanding. It recounts a teen-aged autistic boy's flight from the destroyed safety of his home to a nearby mountain cave. It also is the story of a mother's love and devotion to this human, yet bat-like creature, whom she bore and whom she can no longer protect.
The mother, Ada, discovers after many months where her son has hidden. She protects his secret hiding place from the townsfolk, but only for a while. After convincing her neighbors that he's no longer in the cave she returns to its depths to find he's fallen from the ceiling and has died. The story's final image is of the mother next to her son's body looking at the drawings he had made on the walls of the cave.
This story draws attention to subtle ramifications of organ transplantation for the survivor(s) of the donor as well as for the organ recipient. Also at issue is coming to terms with the sudden death of a loved one. Hannah, a woman in her thirties, finds that three years after the violent death of her husband, she is still caught, "unable to grieve or get on with her life . . . . "
The physician in charge had persuaded her both to allow life-support to be terminated for her brain-dead husband, and to agree to organ donation. "That way your husband will live on." Seven different people are the living recipients of his organs. To Hannah, it seems that her husband is both dead and not dead, an intolerable situation.
She becomes obsessed with trying to meet the person who received her husband's heart. This will be the means by which she can re-connect to the living and achieve closure--she will hear and feel her husband's heart in the chest of the recipient, her ear "a mollusc that would attach itself . . . and cling through whatever crash of the sea." At the end of the story, Hannah has succeeded in her quest and the man who is the heart's recipient, at first suspiciously hostile, has become Hannah's co-conspirator and protector.
Summary:The wife of an anthropologist can not bring herself to confess to her husband that she had all her upper teeth removed many years before when he was away for an extended period. When she is hospitalized for a hysterectomy, she is told she must remove her dentures. She is appalled that her husband might see her without her teeth and nearly refuses the operation. She is helped by an Indian physician with a limp who understands her needs.
Summary:Selzer developed Legionnaire's disease and was comatose for 23 days in 1991. In this short book, he describes his illness and prolonged convalescence. The time of his stay in the ICU is lost to him, so he invents the story of what (might have) happened when he was comatose and delirious. In fact, he invents his own death and resurrection.