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Critical Care: A Novel Paperback – June 15, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (June 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312143044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312143046
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #653,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dooling's 1992 debut novel features a young doctor ensnared in a legal battle over the fate of a comatose man.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This novel moves between the extremely vivid realities of a hospital's intensive care unit to the surreal dreaming of terminally ill patients. It describes the hospital setting from the viewpoint of a young resident, Peter Werner Ernst. Ernst is caught up in many crises, including a legal battle between two daughters who are fighting for control of their father's money. One daughter wants to end his life support systems immediately so that she can inherit his fortune. The other daughter wants to prolong his life for a few months so that the fortune will fall to her. Through their manipulations, Ernst faces the decision of whether to let the man live or die. Detailed descriptions of the frenetic hospital activity make this exciting to read. Recommended for popular fiction collections.
- Kathy Armendt Sorci, IIT Re search Inst., Annapolis, Md.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jay Doolin on March 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I plucked this book off a library shelf in 1996 only because the author's last name caught my attention as being similar to my own. I took it and 6 other novels home and sat down to take a quick preliminary glance at all of them, happening to start with CC. Three hours later, I was still in the same place, alternately howling with laughter and shouting out "Richard Dooling is a GENIUS!" This novel has everything--everything I like, at least: black humor, mordant sociology, unusual but believable and mostly even likeable characters, a plot that keeps you turning pages as fast as you can while at the same time wishing the book would not end, mystery, surprises, an inside look at an arcane profession, and finally, wisdom that doesn't seem hokey. I went back to the library in search of information about the author and--this was 1996, remember--found only a couple of reviews, in library journals, and the reviewers had not understood the book AT ALL. Its fortunes improved somewhat after his second novel was published. The movie was also superlative but went largely unnoticed. I recommended both novel and movie to many friends, and several told me one or the other was just too "strong" for their taste. Maybe it just hits too close to home. I have found most of the same qualities in Dooling's subsequent novels, which because of their subjects--Africa, cyberspace--may be far enough removed from what really hurts us here in the U.S. to be more popular.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By cpanatier@hotmail.com on August 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read Critical Care as soon as I finished Dooling's latest novel, Brain Storm. I was impressed that Dooling possessed such a huge mastery of the world inside the Intensive Care Unit AND of the law. This book presents similar types of ethical questions that Brain Storm does, but all of it is couched in hilarious dialogue and personal character reflections. Make sure to read this book in a place where laughing outloud won't get you thrown out. Great Book (I just started his other novel, White Man's Grave).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jps00@ibm.net on June 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Critical Care" has Dooling's first and perhaps best novel. It contains his usual blend of medical and legal background themes leavened with his acerbic humor.
Unlike his previous novel ("Brain Storm") this is story is based more on the medical theme and less the legal. The story is about the ethical choices a doctor working in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has to make. Doolings style is good, and his ironic descriptions are precious. Yet the book is serious, I'm thinking seriously about a living will after having read this.
One failing I am beginning to find, is that the author only has one character. The doctor in this story is too similar to the lawyer in "Brain Storm" and the Indiana insurance adjuster in "White Man's Grave".
Recommended for those who would like to read about an ironic Dr. Kildare.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on May 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before taking on Richard Dooling's "White Man's Grave" (a National Book Award finalist), I decided to try out a shorter work of his, namely this 1992 debut work. Frankly, there's not much of a story here. I think even each of the five-star reviewers on these pages would attest to that.

What there is, however, is wonderful insight on the medical profession, especially regarding the dynamics and motivations of ICU care. For anyone in medicine, or even for someone who has a good friend or relative in the profession, "Critical Care" is a must-read. For those who live the life depicted in Dooling's book, there will surely be laughs, head-shaking assents and the occassional exclamatory "Yes!"

Where this book also excels is in its depictions of where the medical and legal professions intersect. In fact, the hospital's in-house counsel has some wonderful things to say to the book's protagonist, Peter Werner Ernst, about 'the truth':

"You must understand that in any litigation conducted by competent attorneys the truth will come out; it's only a matter of when. you must also understand that it is far better for both you and the Medical Center if the truth comes out sooner rather than later."

"Cross-examination can be a very unpleasant experience, even for a witness who is telling the truth. Successfully telling lies is almost impossible. Lies change. The truth does not change. If the honest witness gets confused during questioning, he or she need only remember the truth and cling to it and give the same, consistent answers to every question, even questions for which the witness is unprepared. If the witness is not telling the truth, his or her story will change.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
R.D must have been a doctor in a former life because his eye for medical detail is astonishing(second only to his scathing wit).READ IT!
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