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Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures Paperback – September 16, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Weinstein Books; Reprint edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602860564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602860568
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Winner of Canada's Giller Prize, Lam puts all the sex, and death and sleep deprivation crucial to any hospital drama in his debut story collection about doctors in the making. Thankfully Lam, an emergency room physician, looks beyond blood and guts to examine the conflicted hearts and minds of the four medical students sleepwalking their way through the required tests, dissections and all-night emergency room shifts. The stories trace an almost endless stretch of education and service that puts their stamina and skills to the test: Fitz (short for Fitzgerald) has a not-so-secret drinking problem, the fallout from which that lands him an unexpected job; Ming, the main cast's only woman, has a cold scientist's outlook that both aids and hinders her; Sri's heart breaks for anything that comes near his scalpel—be it a tattooed cadaver or a rambling psychotic; and dispassionate Chen struggles, like Sri, to balance compassion with his desire to succeed. The stories' quiet strength lies not in the doctors' education but in Lam's portrayal of the flawed humans behind the surgical masks. This collection made a big splash in Canada, and, as Weinstein Books' first title, is poised to do the same in the U.S. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Vincent Lam joins the ranks of doctor-writers with his award-winning debut novel. Compared to the popular TV dramas Grey's Anatomy, House, and ER, Bloodletting (set to become a Canadian TV drama itself) offers an intriguing look at na•ve doctors' lives and aspirations while showcasing the humanity and daily dilemmas they face. In both humorous and worst-case scenarios, Lam depicts how students plot their way into med school, develop strange ties to cadavers, break terrible news to patients' families, second-guess all their actions, collaborate against their consciences, and deal with life-threatening illnesses of their own. Although a few critics cited flat dialogue, Bloodletting offers a compelling and insightful view of the medical profession.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


More About the Author

Hi Readers,

I'm Dr. Vincent Lam, a writer and a physician.

* Hot Off The Presses *

The Headmaster's Wager, my latest book and my debut novel, is about Percival Chen, a Chinese compulsive gambler and headmaster of an English school in Saigon during the Vietnam War. Percival is inspired by my grandfather, though the book is a work of fiction. This novel is a war story, a love story, and a story of fathers and sons. It inhabits 'the war that was going on beneath the surface of the Vietnam War'.

The Headmaster's Wager is published in America by Hogarth Prees, in Canada by Doubleday, and in the UK and Australia by Fourth Estate.

* About Me *

My family background is the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. I was born in Canada. I did my medical training in Toronto, where I am now an emergency physician and a Lecturer at the University of Toronto. I've also worked in international air evacuation and expedition medicine on Arctic and Antarctic ships.

* Other Writing *

My first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and has recently been adapted for television and broadcast on HBO Canada. It is a collection of linked short stories about medical students, physicians, and the journey of learning how to care for others.

If you're interested in the origins of Canadian universal health care, I wrote a biography of Tommy Douglas, who was a Canadian politician and the father of Canadian universal health care. He's also Kiefer Sutherland's grandfather. It is published by Penguin Canada as part of Extraordinary Canadians series.

Customer Reviews

I found these interconnected stories very moving.
L. Gordon
I could see that point of view but didn't really see it as a shortcoming.
S. Price
The characters are cliched and very difficult to care about.
Richard Pittman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Norburn on January 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that he had trouble ending short stories in ways that would satisfy a general public. The dilema of how to end a short story and not leave the reader feeling unfulfilled is an enourmous challenge for any writer. Admittedly, I felt unfulfilled by some of the stories in Vincent Lam's Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, but for the most part I found this collection facinating and highly entertaining.

Lam draws on his own experience as an emergency room physician and provides an insider's view into the challenges of medical school and the demands of being a physician. Lam introduces the reader to four young medical students and follows them through twelve loosely woven stories. Readers expecting Bloodletting to resemble a novel, where each story is linked to the last may be disappointed. The first three stories follow this format, but while each story does feature at least one of the four young doctors, there is little connection between the remaining 9 stories.

Like all short story collections, some are better than others. The strongest stories (`Eli', `Night Flight', and `Before Light') are the ones that explore how ethically complicated being a physician can be. Lam's writing is fresh, insightful, and often touched with humor. I particularly enjoyed the movie scenes that Fritz imagines, while longing for his former girlfriend in `How to Get in Medical School Part II', and the highly entertaining story of Chen's grandfather in a `Very Long Migration' (which sounds like it may be the basis for Lam's first novel).

While a little uneven at times, overall Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures is a captivating, insightful look at the complicated, challenging, and emotionally draining world of medicine. I look forward to Lam's debut novel.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rick on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I first heard of this book when I read about it winning Canada's top literary prize--I thought it unusual that a full-time doctor could write such acclaimed fiction, so I asked a Toronto friend to send me a copy and I'm glad this is now out in the States. The stories are beautiful, intelligent, and often darkly humorous in a way that reminded me of Nathan Englander, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Schickler, and Adam Haslett. But what sets this apart is how it takes you deep into the world of doctors--how they feel and think in relation to each other and their patients. It follows four young doctors during medical school and then into their early careers. There's romance, crazy patients, tense ER moments, mundane patient/doctor conversations that take on a deeper meaning. Really just everything a doctor might encounter, seen through their eyes. This lingered with me much longer than any episode of ER, HOUSE, or Grey's Anatomy ever did--definitely worth a look!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on August 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
The practice of medicine offers endless scope for a writer--the chaos of sudden illness, the smoke and mirrors of technology, and the blend of empathy and toughness in the characters of those who succeed in this challenging field. Canadian author Vincent Lam's credentials as an emergency physician give Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures the ring of truth, though it's a work of fiction; I was halfway throught the book before realizing that it's not a novel but a collection of short stories, closely linked by the cast of four main characters and by the chronological arrangement.

We meet Ming and Fitz during their college years in Toronto. Ming's family expects only the best from her, and her demands on herself are even greater. She will never allow her love affair with Fitz to interfere with getting into medical school. In the second story, Chen and Sri join Ming in the dissection lab where they bond with (and argue over) their cadaver. These four young people are showcased throughout the book.

Though the stories are linked, they vary in mood. The rigors of medical school and residency feature in the early stories. "A Long Migration" is a vignette of Chen's Chinese family. Several stories feature patients and their troubles. In "Night Flight," Fitz flies with a medical evac team. Possibly the best of the bunch is "Contact Tracing," a strobe-like string of impressions from the Toronto SARS epidemic; in this year of H1N1 fears, it had an ominous reality.

Some of the stories were very satisfying to me, but overall the book seemed a bit uneven.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. Dawson on September 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of short stories with overlapping characters. The stories trace the lives of four medical students that become doctors. Lam, a doctor himself, incudes plenty of realistic medical detail, and the characters are complex and interesting. I think I would have preferred this as a novel. As a short story collection, the effect is like a strobe light on an intricate drama. Certain vignettes are revealed in the bright light during a particular period of time, but then darkness falls again, and the interconnectivity of the whole can never be fully felt or understood.
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