Minor Surgery

Selzer, Richard

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet
  • Date of entry: Jan-11-1999
  • Last revised: Sep-01-2006


Nathan was born with a strawberry birthmark on his chest, which both repels and comforts him. Sometimes it is an intricate and unique part of himself that sets him apart from other people and has the power to make him feel special. On the other hand, its very strangeness makes it repulsive to others, especially to women. At his girlfriend’s urging he decides to have the birthmark removed. Despite his doubts, he goes through with the surgery only to realize he has made a big mistake. He blames his girlfriend for his decision.


This brief story raises important issues around the meaning of appearance, the effects of apparently minor bodily imperfections on one’s sense of identity, sexuality, and well-being, and the complex motivations which surround one’s decisions to modify one’s appearance. Makes an interesting counter point to the issue of cosmetic surgery for women.

Primary Source

Rituals of Surgery


William Morrow

Place Published

New York



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