Bypass: A Memoir by Joseph A. Amatoby Joseph A. Amato
This inquiry into matters of heart, conducted under the shadows of pending surgery, awakens themes of boyhood, education, and marriage and prompt questions about loyalty to a deceased father, connections with immigrant grandparents, loss and rediscovery of faith, and solitude versus community. A medical narrative, the book also chronicles a span of contemporary
This inquiry into matters of heart, conducted under the shadows of pending surgery, awakens themes of boyhood, education, and marriage and prompt questions about loyalty to a deceased father, connections with immigrant grandparents, loss and rediscovery of faith, and solitude versus community. A medical narrative, the book also chronicles a span of contemporary American life. Throughout Amato's account, the consistent reminder of his upcoming bypass invites readers to reflect on their own lives and selves. This is an intelligent and witty guide to an immensely common operation that nevertheless for each patient constitutes a unique experience-a veritable rite of passage.
Headstrong and accustomed to being in control, Amato initially spurns his doctor's advice to undergo a bypass, opting instead for a regimen of exercise, prayer and dietary change that he hopes will reverse his potentially fatal arterial blockages. Its failure is but one of his humbling experiences as surgery draws nearer. Drawing little comfort from assurances that his prospects are excellent for surviving the operation and resuming his busy life, he travels from Minnesota to his boyhood home of Detroit, where he visits the graves of his father and grandparents and bids "provisional farewells" to people and places he has long known. Despite his misgivings, the surgery goes without a hitch, and Amato emerges physically and spiritually healthier, with a keener sense of what matters most in life.
Bypass is simultaneously a straightforward account of a medical procedure as seen through one patient's eyes and, as the subtitle makes clear, a personal memoir. Amato writes at length of his parents and grandparents, of childhood peccadilloes, of his passion for golf, courting his wife, helping establish the history program at a new college on the Minnesota prairie. Of particular interest is his deep religious faith, and how the prospect of dying young forces this proud intellectual to surrender his fate to the God of his peasant ancestors.
To read this book is to become intimately acquainted with Amato, warts and all. One marvels at the breadth of his knowledge and the richness of his life's experiences; shares his fear of the unknown and his zest for life; and frowns at his impatience and bouts of self-centeredness. Yet one comes away with a sense that, ever the student, he has learned his lessons well and passed his toughest test. Outwardly, he concludes, bypass left a scar on his chest. "Inwardly, it set death's skull on the desk of my mind. It told me time was preciously scarce, and I must work hard. There is only so much time to achieve one's heart's desires."
- Purdue University Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.51(w) x 7.72(h) x 0.91(d)
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