Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Labby Christine Montross
Medical student Christine Montross felt nervous standing outside the anatomy lab on her first day of class. Entering a room with stainless-steel tables topped by corpses in body bags was initially unnerving./b>/i>
A "gleaming, humane" (The New York Times Book Review) memoir of the relationship between a cadaver named Eve and a first-year medical student
Medical student Christine Montross felt nervous standing outside the anatomy lab on her first day of class. Entering a room with stainless-steel tables topped by corpses in body bags was initially unnerving. But once Montross met her cadaver, she found herself intrigued by the person the woman once was and fascinated by the strange, unsettling beauty of the human form. They called her Eve. The story of Montross and Eve is a tender and surprising examination of the mysteries of the human body, and a remarkable look at our relationship with both the living and the dead.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
Though it never goes for the gross-out effect, this memoir is not for the squeamish. "You begin to learn to heal the living by dismantling the dead," says Montross, and though her recollections encompass all of her medical training, the narrative backbone of the story is her semester-long dissection of a human cadaver, from opening up the ribcage to removing the brain from the skull. Montross was a poet and writing teacher before she decided to become a doctor, and she peppers her account of the dismantling of her cadaver, Eveso named because she has no belly buttonwith arresting imagery: to test the heart's semilunar valves ("little half-moons that work passively and without musculature"), she and another student take the organ to a sink and run tap water through it. Performing her own dissection leads Montross to explore the history of studying anatomy through corpses, which brings tantalizing detours to medieval Italian universities and saints' shrines. But she also recounts her earliest encounters with living patients, such as a heart-wrenching consultation with a man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, who can communicate only by blinking. Her thoughtful meditations on balancing clinical detachment and emotional engagement will easily find a spot on the shortlist of great med school literature. (June 25)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- 18 Years
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Meet the Author
Christine Montross is an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior and the codirector of the Medical Humanities and Bioethis Scholary Concentration at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She is also a practicing inpatient psychiatrist. She and her partner, the playwright Deborah Salem Smith, live in Rhode Island with their two young children. Her most recent book is Falling Into the Fire: A Pscyhiatrist's Encounters With the Mind in Crisis.
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I'm going to start with a disclaimer. This book is certainly not for everyone, as the subtitle is "Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab". If you get squeamish easily, then scroll up or down for another review. If one of your favorite television shows is "Dr. G., Medical Examiner", then keep reading. This work of nonfiction grabs you from the very beginning. Christine Montross (now Dr.) is entering her first year as a med student. She knows that her first class will be Gross Anatomy, and that she will be responsible for dissecting a cadaver throughout the term. She knows nothing about the person she is dissecting.... hopes, dreams, memories, cause of death, family, etc. All she knows is that it is female with no belly button. Therefore, she and her lab partners decide to name her "Eve". This book is hauntingly beautiful as it explores the making of a doctor. The author intersperses the detachment needed in her lab dissections with stories of mortality in her own family and in other countries. I give this book the highest rating, but again, don't say I didn't warn you. MY RATING - 5 To see my rating scale and to read other reviews, please visit my blog at: http://www.1776books.blogspot.com
What a beautifully written story that helps to understand the bridge from regular person to physician thru the completion of gross anatomy lab. The book is well crafted with history and personal stories along the way. Highly recommended read.
An unbelievably well written account of a student's first year in Medical School. I am going to start med school in the summer and I am so happy I found this book. Must read for anyone even remotely interested in medicine.
Body of Work is a masterpiece representation of art (poetry) meeting science. I found myself unable to put it down and dreaded completing it. Dr. Montross has given the reader a very rare glimpse into the psyche and life of a medical student. She was open, honest,and specific. Body of Work was also very lyrical and read with incredible ease. I really liked how Dr. Montross incorporated Fine Art (her research in Italy), History, and Medicine, which made the book cohesive and readable for anyone, whether an artist or a medical professional or not. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to future books by this author. It is highly likely that I will read this one again. Thanks for a great book, Dr. Montross and Congratulations!!!