In 1982, when he was 58, Georgia physician Sams published his first novel, Run with the Horsemen, to critical acclaim. Six books later, here's a collection of three long, rather philosophical stories that, although by no means flawless, exhibit the same wisdom and command of language as his earlier works. On the surface, the title story is an engaging tale about a quixotic old doctor battling the harassment of a pompous young medical bureaucrat while trying to treat the blood pressure of a simple working man too proud to ask help from anyone. A deepening relationship between doctor and patient evolves, allowing for the unfolding of a complex secondary story about injustice and racism. Ultimately, the perspectives of both men are profoundly changed. The middle story, ``Harmony Ain't Easy,'' examines the mettle-and enduring resources-of a 40-year marriage against the background of a wildflower-hunting expedition in the remote Georgia mountains that suddenly takes a harrowing turn. In the concluding story, ``Relative & Absolute,'' a trio of high-school seniors, for a class project, interview the town's oldest citizen about the not-so-good old days. While each tale is more than a bit preachy and burdened by long stretches of dialogue, all three are filled with warm insights and piquant questions about our inhumanity to one another. The homespun result is both satisfying and provoking-and well worth the read. (Oct.)
A prolific author and physician in Fayetteville, Georgia, Sams is known for his homespun wisdom and country charm. This book has three tales. The elderly physician in "Epiphany" accepts a poor, proud patient with a frightening history, and their developing friendship provides emotional balm for both men. "Harmony Ain't Easy," the story of marital accord under stressful conditions, concerns a doctor and his wife, who avert discord when their car gets stuck along a steep mountain road. In "Relative & Absolute," the county's oldest man chats with teens about "the good old days," forging generational links and developing new understandings. Filled with charm and compassion, Sams's stories nourish the soul and uplift the spirit. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Md.
School Library Journal
YA-Three stories that reflect the author's skillful use of narrative to reveal how relationships make people change or grow. The title piece is told in first-person medical dictations and in the third person. Dr. Mark Goddard meets Gregry McHune, a patient who is wary of people in general and of doctors in particular. As the physician provides time, care, and insights, Gregry entrusts him with his story, and the men become friends. The second selection is autobiographical; Sams tells about his marriage in ``Harmony Ain't Easy,'' a brief, raucous tale. Will Henry McEachern, the oldest citizen in the county, narrates the final story. Three high school seniors interview him about the changes he has seen-from the days of Reconstruction to the present-in education, economics, race relations, and integration. As he and the students exchange ideas, the interview becomes a dialogue about ``Relative & Absolute'' moral issues, and gradually the sense of obligation on both sides becomes respect and affection. YAs unfamiliar with Sams will appreciate his careful craftsmanship, sense of place, and keen ear for dialogue and pacing.-Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA