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From The CriticsIn his new and selected essays, the well-known surgeon/writer covers a range of subjects, including organ donation and physician-assisted suicide. Selzer is most interesting when he leads us into the operating room or morgue and draws us closer to the human body. With unflinching eyes and a poet's skill, he describes the brutal process involving the "suction trocar" through which our bodies, after death, are violently gored and drained in preparation for embalming or autopsy. Elsewhere he examines a man's scalp, in which cancer had "munched his skull, then opened the membranes underneath...until it had laid bare this short-order cook's brain, pink and gray, and pulsating so that with each beat a little pool of cerebral fluid quivered." An intelligent and thoughtful observer with many years of experience at the Yale School of Medicine, Selzer enables us to see our bodies in previously unconsidered ways. In an essay on skin, he describes a strange case of vitiligo, through which a man's skin tone changed from black to white, and he concludes, "Henry Moss was proof that the races were interchangeable, the skin reversible." Though his prose style occasionally strays toward hyperbole and archaisms, this collection is a brilliant guide to the human body.