and Other Tales from a Doctor's Notebook
by Siegfried Kra, M.D.
I read this book for the Random Reading Challenge. It was #14 on my list. The first story almost dampened my interest for the rest- but I continued reading and the puzzle of each little tale was intriguing enough to get me through the book. It's a collection of "medical mysteries"- people suffering from various unusual conditions and illnesses, and how the doctor finally figured out what it was. Most of them had good outcomes, for a few the solution came too late, or there was no known cure. Among the stories are a ladies' man who looses his potency, a man who is constantly blue in the face, a dentist who is slowly going crazy and a man being poisoned by the wine from his own vineyard. But interspersed are a few different kind of stories- the longest being one of the author's own childhood illness, a continuous fever of unknown cause- and a sad little chapter about time he spent as a medical student in a tuberculosis sanatorium in the early 50's, where he fell in love with one of the patients. There's also one about a trip he took on a night train to Paris, where a poor, Italian family (due to a language barrier) misconstrued his attempts to help their ill, elderly father as an attack on his life! In style it's kind of like an Oliver Sacks book, but not nearly as well-written, more casual in a light storytelling vein. I read through it pretty quickly.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 213 pages, 1989