An inspiring story of a group of young doctors who endured a trial by fire.

LIFE ON THE LINE

YOUNG DOCTORS COME OF AGE IN A PANDEMIC

A moving account of six medical students who graduated early in order to join the battle against Covid-19.

New York Times journalist Goldberg sets her scene close to home at Bellevue Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center, both of which were already understaffed and overwhelmed in April 2020. Medical schools teach essentials during the first three years; the fourth is generally elective, so leaving early is an option, and all New York City medical schools asked for volunteers during the pandemic. Not everyone stepped up, but the author offers appreciative profiles of those who did. Readers who hear that Covid-19 kills only a small percentage of its victims, comparable to the flu, will be shocked at the horrific suffering that her young doctors witnessed. Entering through the respiratory tract, the virus attacks the lungs, often leading to pneumonia and respiratory failure so severe that patients require a ventilator. However, early on, half of patients placed on a ventilator died. “Another challenge for the new doctors,” writes Goldberg, “was the pervasive fear of infection. For the most part, neither senior physicians nor new graduates had been trained to worry for their lives while caring for patients.” All struggled to establish trust while spending minimal time near patients and wearing bulky protective equipment that covered their faces. Although Goldberg’s subjects seem to be the crème de la crème of the medical profession, she digresses liberally into the establishment’s shortcomings. “American medical schools are still predominantly white and wealthy,” she writes. “This is partly because doctors are predominantly white and wealthy, and doctors tend to beget doctors.” White doctors spend more time with White than non-White patients, but Covid-19 kills far more poor and non-White victims, which is sadly true for most diseases. Goldberg concludes that the medical establishment is making a genuine effort to broaden medical culture and attract minorities, and her heroes, an admirably diverse group, are contributing mightily.

An inspiring story of a group of young doctors who endured a trial by fire.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307338-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A thimbleful of fresh content lies buried in tales familiar and often told.

THE LAST DAYS OF JOHN LENNON

Beatlemania meets autopsy in the latest product from the Patterson factory.

The authors take more than half the book to reach John Lennon’s final days, which passed 40 years ago—an anniversary that, one presumes, provides the occasion for it. The narrative opens with killer Mark David Chapman talking to himself: “It’s like I’m invisible.” And how do we know that Chapman thought such a thing? Well, the authors aver, they’re reconstructing the voices in his head and other conversations “based on available third-party sources and interviews.” It’s a dubious exercise, and it doesn’t get better with noir-ish formulas (“His mind is a dangerous neighborhood”) and clunky novelistic stretches (“John Lennon wakes up, reaches for his eyeglasses. At first the day seems like any other until he realizes it’s a special one….He picks up the kitchen phone to greet his old songwriting partner, who’s called to wish him all the best for the record launch”). In the first half of the book, Patterson and company reheat the Beatles’ origin story and its many well-worn tropes, all of which fans already know in detail. Allowing for the internal monologue, things improve somewhat once the narrative approaches Chapman’s deranged act—300-odd pages in, leaving about 50 pages for a swift-moving account of the murder and its aftermath, which ends with Chapman in a maximum-security cell where “he will be protected from the ugliness of the outside world….The cell door slides shut and locks. Mark David Chapman smiles. I’m home.” To their credit, the authors at least don’t blame Lennon’s “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” for egging on the violence that killed him, but this book pales in comparison to Kenneth Womack’s John Lennon 1980 and Philip Norman’s John Lennon: The Life, among many other tomes on the Fab Four.

A thimbleful of fresh content lies buried in tales familiar and often told.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42906-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2021

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