Raising the Dead: 2a Doctor's Encounter with His Own Mortality

Richard Selzer, Author Viking Books $17.5 (128p) ISBN 978-0-670-85414-1
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.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/1994
Release date: 02/01/1994
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 118 pages - 978-0-14-023489-3
Paperback - 118 pages - 978-0-87013-604-7
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