Diary

Overview

Susan Cheever observed in a New York Times Book Review appraisal of his memoir Down from Troy that Richard Selzer "cares more about truth than consequences . . . [and] immerses us in the facts we all know but hate to admit." Selzer's Diary picks up roughly where the memoir leaves off, as his writing life flourishes and surgical career ends. Stripped of the doctor-writer's "privilege of [walking] about all day in the middle of a short story," Selzer shifts his focus to his interior life. In Diary, the author's ...

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Diary

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Overview

Susan Cheever observed in a New York Times Book Review appraisal of his memoir Down from Troy that Richard Selzer "cares more about truth than consequences . . . [and] immerses us in the facts we all know but hate to admit." Selzer's Diary picks up roughly where the memoir leaves off, as his writing life flourishes and surgical career ends. Stripped of the doctor-writer's "privilege of [walking] about all day in the middle of a short story," Selzer shifts his focus to his interior life. In Diary, the author's successes and regrets, as well as the humor and sadness that surround him, are revealed with the same empathy and vividness that made him one of the great doctor-writers of modern literature.

Diary brings together stories and observations dashed off on park benches and in library carrels over the past decade. Following the success of such books as Confessions of a Knife and The Doctor Stories, Selzer's diary entries recount life lived in the shadow of both achievement and disappointment. He introduces a varied cast of characters, from the distinguished fellowship of the "Boys Friendly" to his "fellow loonies," and evokes the streets, buildings, and parks of Yale and New Haven with vibrancy and affection. And throughout, Selzer faces the looming specter of old age. The distinctive voice that paved the way for other notable doctor-writers like Jerome Groopman and Abraham Verghese is revealed here to be no less compelling with the spotlight turned on himself and the drama of everyday living.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
"[Richard Selzer writes of] the care of the terminal and the treatment of the frail with such vividness and a disarming awe that it is hard to imagine he has not lived through most of what he recounts."—Fitzhugh Mullan on The Doctor Stories in Washington Post Book World
New Yorker - Ruth Franklin
“A heroic translation . . . English-speaking readers can finally experience the diary as Gombrowicz intended it—as a single, coherent work . . . his major creative endeavor.”—Ruth Franklin, New Yorker
New Haven Advocate
No matter where [Richard Selzer] takes us, we follow, because he has the storyteller’s gift.—New Yorker

— Anna Reisman

Bookforum
[Selzer is] known for his rich language and Diary doesn't disappoint: It's infused with spicy metaphors, toothsome images and the pungent vocabulary of medicine. . . . At once his descriptions are offensive and wonderful.—Anna Reisman, New Haven Advocate

— Eric Banks

Robert Nathan
"There is little he cannot achieve with the written word"—Robert Nathan, New York Times Book Review
William Beatty
"[Richard Selzer writes of] the care of the terminal and the treatment of the frail with such vividness and a disarming awe that it is hard to imagine he has not lived through most of what he recounts."—Fitzhugh Mullan on The Doctor Stories in Washington Post Book World
Fitzhugh Mullan
“Richard Selzer does for medicine what Jacques Cousteau does for the sea. He transports the reader to a world that most of us never see, a world that is vivid and powerful, often overwhelming, occasionally fantastic...His marvelous insight and potent imagery make his tales of surgery and medicine both works of art and splendid tools of instruction.”—Fitzhugh Mullan on Letters to a Young Doctor in the New York Times Book Review
New Haven Advocate - Anna Reisman
“No matter where [Richard Selzer] takes us, we follow, because he has the storyteller’s gift.”—New Yorker
Bookforum - Eric Banks
"[Selzer is] known for his rich language and Diary doesn't disappoint: It's infused with spicy metaphors, toothsome images and the pungent vocabulary of medicine. . . . At once his descriptions are offensive and wonderful."—Anna Reisman, New Haven Advocate
Book Summit
"With unflinching eyes and a poet's skill . . . Selzer enables us to see our bodies in previously unconsidered ways ."—James Schiff, Book Summit
Philadelphia Inquirer
"Selzer has a grace all his own, both as a prose stylist and as a surgeon...patients everywhere should applaud the medical school administrators who make his books required reading: They teach young doctors humility, kindness, and compassion."—Susan Balée, The Philadelphia Inquirer
New Yorker
“Worth the price of admission for Selzer's longtime fans, whose numbers will swell as newcomers become intrigued and delighted by his wit, perception, and skillful use of language.”—William Beatty on The Exact Location of the Soul in Booklist
Los Angeles Times
"No one writes about the practice of medicine with Selzer's unique combination of mystery and wonder."—Los Angeles Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300124613
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 3/29/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Selzer is a former surgeon and Yale School of Medicine professor. He is the author of several collections of stories and essays, including Letters to a Young Doctor, and Raising the Dead. He lives in New Haven, CT.

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