Dirty Work

Gabriel Weston. Little, Brown, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-0-316-23562-4
A physician in crisis is at the heart of this intense debut novel from doctor and memoirist Weston (Direct Red). Nancy Mullion is a talented obstetrician-gynecologist, who, as the novel opens, blunders during surgery, leaving her patient in a coma. As a result, Nancy faces suspension and an inquiry into the incident. She spends the following weeks in front of review boards and is subjected to psychological evaluations. She’s left fighting for her career and questioning her commitment to her work. As Nancy begins to crack under the pressure, she dwells on her memories of childhood, adolescence, and her student days. She has suppressed her deep outrage at the medical system’s disregard for patients’ feelings, but over time has also lost her sense of self. Weston writes harrowing medical scenes (lots of blood in these pages), and manages to nail Nancy’s psychological state in a series of small moments depicting her atrophied inner life. Nancy is both a sympathetic and a frustrating character—a balance that becomes all the more precarious after certain details of her work are revealed. As Nancy observes: “I am a brute and I have the evidence. But I am compassionate, too.” While Weston’s ambitions for the book initially seem modest (i.e., plumbing the depths of a single surgical mistake and its aftermath), she raises profound questions by the conclusion. A medical and moral tour de force. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/07/2014
Release date: 08/12/2014
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4481-6373-1
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-0-316-23560-0
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