The Sickness

Alberto Barrera Tyszka, trans. from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa. Tin House (PGW, dist.) $14.95 trade paper (151p) ISBN 978-1-935639-25-1
Dr. Andrés Miranda, a well-known advocate of "the transparent relationship between doctor and patient," has trouble following his own advice when his father is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Edifying digressions addressing economic injustice and the plight of women in a society dominated by machismo culture, as well as lengthy medical anecdotes, feel somehow forced, as though Tyszka (Hugo Chàvez) wanted to give the reader a little respite from the predictably voracious advance of the terminal illness, or Miranda's own oddly disassociated emotions when confronted with his rapidly deteriorating father. The novel gathers steam when Miranda's secretary decides to respond to the desperate e-mails of a hypochondriac, an ex-patient who has been stalking her boss, in order to avert a possible catastrophe. This parallel plot evolves into an engrossing dialectic, and is possessed of all the dramatic portent and subtle character development that are strangely absent from the main storyline. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
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