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Confessions of a Knife Paperback – November 30, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0870136054 ISBN-10: 0870136054 Edition: Reprint
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Confessions of a Knife + Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery + Letters to a Young Doctor (Harvest Book)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

7 1-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

About the Author

Richard Selzer is the author of numerous books and articles. He is a former surgeon and professor of surgery. Selzer taught writing at Yale University and is the recipient of dozens of awards and honors, including a Pushcart Prize, National Magazine Award (for his essays), an American Medical Writer's Award, and a Guggenheim fellowship. His work has been published in New American Review, Esquire, Harper's, and other periodicals.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Michigan State University Press; Reprint edition (November 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870136054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870136054
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,370,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing so fragile as admitting ones frailties. Richard Selzer does this exquisitely. Always with integrity and self-reflections. Think of "Raccoon." Honestly, how would anyone except a soul of great depth understand the desperation of this patient. To be able to bring it to the level of great literature shows remarkable talent. Richard Selzer is my favorite writer beyond any doubt. I must recommend all of his other books, "Letters to a Young Doctor", "Mortal Lessons", "Down From Troy", etc. Make sure you catch "Raising the Dead" as well, which is a wonderful journalistic book. I was shocked however, to discover Cardizem ads scattered throughout. Ouch! Oh well, whatever it takes for other doctors to read and reflect cannot be all bad
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Format: Paperback
Richard Selzer is a surgeon and a writer. This book is a collection of short stories, mostly medical-case based. Some are fictional stories of a medical vein. Others are poetical, allegorical rambling of a medical nature.
For the most part, I find the writing when reflecting on his past, or of a case, to be revealing and always interesting, haunting at times. He captures the human aspect of being a doctor, seeing the person in the patient. The effects of the hopeless case, the death of a colleague and a friend. The mysteries around life and death.
The more fictional or pontificating type stories have more metaphorical writing and I feel it gets too convolluted and abstract. It is not this style of writing that I care for. The appendix on the appendix while seeming artful was tiring. The specimen collectors a bit horrifying. The shadows of a winch could make you a vegetarian. And here I go on the negative, when I really like the guys writing. I have several more of his books that I will be reading. My point on this one, is that it is bit of hit and miss. I liked about 60% of it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Von Gardiner on March 31, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Wow, this is dull. There is no insight into life,medicine or surgery, but his own ramblings of how great and intellectual he is. What few surgical situations there are, are uninspiring.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Dave on August 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a physician, albeit about 20 years young than Selzer. He is too preoccupied with his own sense of self-importance combined with a Zen Master approach to pondering general surgery. Real general surgeons tend to be knuckle-draggers that aren't predisposed to poetic reflection.
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3 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Matt Payne on November 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a book about clinical medicine, or (as the title would seem to imply), surgery, please look elsewhere.

While it's obviously very well written, and even occasionally interesting, you need a college degree in literature to understand half (or more) of this book. Selzer spends far too much time trying to be Shakespeare and far too little time talking about the knife.

If you're looking to peel away layer after overbloated layer of superfluous metaphor to extract some semblance of medical relevance, then this is the book for you!

Look, it's not bad, it's just very misrepresented by its title.
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