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The Whistlers' Room: Stories and Essays
     

The Whistlers' Room: Stories and Essays

by Richard Selzer
 

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Richard Selzer is one of America’s most accomplished stylists, a physician turned writer in the grand tradition that stretches from Chekhov to William Carols Williams to Oliver Sachs. As Iliana Semmler notes in her introduction, "over fifteen years ago [he] substituted the pen for the scalpel, the desk for the operating table, his carrel in Yale’s

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Richard Selzer is one of America’s most accomplished stylists, a physician turned writer in the grand tradition that stretches from Chekhov to William Carols Williams to Oliver Sachs. As Iliana Semmler notes in her introduction, "over fifteen years ago [he] substituted the pen for the scalpel, the desk for the operating table, his carrel in Yale’s Sterling Library for the Operating Room, [but] the consciousness of the physician remains a guiding force in all his work."

The Whistlers’ Room collects twenty-four pieces, from diaries and memoirs to essays on painting and sculpture, from essays on travel to translation and fiction. The title piece recounts the compassion and camaraderie between three soldier-patients in what was dubbed the Whistlers’ Room: "Each had been shot in the throat and sustained a more or less identical wound, destruction of the larynx." The whole book is an exhilarating tour, led by a remarkable imagination.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Selzer, a surgeon who retired in middle age to take up writing, lives in New Haven, CT, and is the author of a number of books. Some of the pieces in this compilation have been previously published. The title piece, Selzer's rewriting of an obscure German work, is an effective story that deals with the physical disfigurements resulting from war. The other fiction piece, "Birdwatching," astutely details the power play between a married couple. The author sees himself in the tradition of Chekhov, another doctor/writer, and his essay topics demonstrate a high self-regard. In "The Boy in the Shirt," he imagines a persona for the young man mentioned in the Gospel of Mark as being with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; in "Lectures on Art," he explicates for the general reader paintings and sculpture housed in the Yale Art Gallery. He admits that he is not a student of art history but looks at art "with the obsessive gaze of a doctor striving to make a diagnosis." These tedious pieces are basically used as starting points for his own ruminations, as are the diary entries recording story ideas, which should have been omitted. Selzer can be humorous and erudite, and he is most effective when writing fiction, but this work remains a marginal purchase.-Gina Kaiser, Univ. of the Sciences in Philadelphia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593760199
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
06/09/2004
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.05(d)

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