Raising the Dead by Richard Selzer, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Raising the Dead

Raising the Dead

by Richard Selzer

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1991 surgeon Selzer ( Mortal Lessons ), stricken with Legionnaires' disease, was in a coma for 23 days and nearly died. Here he recalls ``the extravaganza of death'' in a way that is at once odd, funny and moving, written in an abstract, detached third-person narrative that is purposefully disquieting. His description of his near-death experience is riveting as he looks outside his own body at what is happening, a flat EKG for 412 minutes with no signs of life: ``It is strange, this painless death.'' Through his dead eyes we see a nurse writing the details of Selzer's demise on the chart, then he starts to breathe again. His eyes fling open. ``After ten minutes of certified death, this man has . . . risen. Risen!,'' reminiscent of Lazarus and Christ. The reader sees life through Selzer's ``myopic haze'' as he is haunted--and haunts us--with his travels to a ``Lotus land'' of monasteries, the Nile, the Abbey of St. Ronan and meetings with Father Damien of leper fame. Compared to his ``death,'' his full recovery at home is uneventful as Selzer reminds us that ``death is easy; it is the return of life that requires courage.'' (Feb.)
Library Journal
Selzer was a surgeon at the Yale School of Medicine before he turned full time to writing. His books have been well received, in particular his essay on the art of surgery, Mortal Lessons ( LJ 12/1/76), and his memoir, Down from Troy ( LJ 6/15/92). However, this new book will not help his reputation. Selzer here describes his bout with Legionnaires' disease: 23 days in a coma, being declared dead, and subsequent recovery. He does not describe his feelings in any detail except to recite his dreams. He even ``cites'' his medical chart to describe what happened but at the end says that he made up his chart. After completing this book, the only impression this reviewer was left with was, ``Why did I read this?'' There is nothing to help patients in similar circumstances; nor are there any of the insights into health and medicine that Selzer is known for. Not recommended.-- Eric D. Albright, Galter Health Sciences Lib., Northwestern Univ., Chicago
William Beatty
This book is unusual for Selzer, a well-known surgeon-essayist, because it deals primarily with a single subject, his own attack of Legionnaires' disease. Three-quarters of it tells, mostly in the third person, of his illness, hospital experiences, and relations with his doctor and his wife. The first quarter (presumably put in to push the text over 100 pages) describes the excruciating, nearly fatal experience of breast cancer that English writer Fanny Burney (1752-1840) endured. Selzer is a good writer, but he must have been a terrible patient. He readily admits to several egoistic and infantile reactions to his disease, and unadmitted events must have alienated most of his caregivers at one time or another. After three weeks in intensive care, Selzer had 10 minutes of "certified death" (hence the title). His highly personal narrative, although it omits the time he was in coma, will interest patients, their families, the whole range of medical and hospital personnel, and devotees of health-care literature.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.69(w) x 8.73(h) x 0.63(d)

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