First Degree Love: A Novel of Euthanasia

Jim Rold, Author Strawberry Hill Press $9.95 (207p) ISBN 978-0-89407-106-5
Radiologist Rold'spk first novel provides a fictional view of mercy killing as a natural, almost inevitable treatment recourse by Joshua Wesley, the pk story's narrator. The reader follows Wesley's coming-of-age in rural Kentucky, medical training and first years of practice in the small town where he was raised. One day, he induces septicemia in a former grade-school teacher of his who has terminal cancer and begs to be put out of her misery. However, he goes on to commit euthanasia in two rather more ambiguous situations. His actions seem less based on a carefully considered ethical decision than on a kind of trance, ``an irreversible force . . . as deadly as the irresistible flame awaiting the intrepid moth in the night.'' When apprehended and tried for murder, Wesley articulates a rationalization--that hell is disease and salvation is relief from suffering; thus Wesley asserts that euthanasia is ``first degree love,'' not murder. But Rold's often rambling prose and his curiously grandiose, doubt-free protagonist fail to offer a penetrating examination of the moral dilemma of euthanasia. Author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
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