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Critical Care: A Novel [Paperback]

by Richard Dooling
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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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.

From Kirkus Reviews

Sardonic, often harrowing look at the American way of life- support by a writer so thoroughly in control it's hard to believe this is a first novel. A stunning debut. Dr. Werner Ernst, the type who knows (and prefers to ignore) an ethical dilemma when he sees one, would rather be reading great books and chasing women than working all night as second-year resident on an intensive care unit. Constantly exhausted, what he most desires is sleep--as unattainable for him as death is for the hopeless (but well-insured) cases on life-support. Against a nightmarish high-tech backdrop, burned-out staff members exchange insults, refer to patients by bed numbers (never names), and sometimes perform acts of secret compassion. Meanwhile, terminal patients have eschatological hallucinations; Bed Five's self- involved daughter sets out to seduce the more-than-willing Werner and--raising questions of her real motive--asks him to block a procedure that may prolong her comatose father's life. Dooling's unflinching portrayal of suffering, dehumanization, and modern medical technique is almost unbearably painful to read but near impossible to put down. Cruel exaggerations don't detract from authenticity: details--whether about hospitals, lawsuits, or fashion models' makeup--are stunningly accurate. In lesser hands, the climactic scene--a conversation with a nun--might have seemed forced, but the metaphysical undercurrents that are skillfully evoked throughout the novel make it work. A powerhouse for those strong enough in spirit and constitution to read it. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A bitter and disturbing, though often very funny, first novel with a sensibility that Dr. Strangelove fans will recognize." --Beryl Lieff Benderly, The Washington Post Book World

"Dooling demonstrates a fresh talent for storytelling and clean, clever writing . . . His command of the medical and legal professions makes him a writer worth reading." --Collette Bachand-Wood, Boston Sunday Herald

"A scathingly funny black comedy . . . almost impossible to put down." --Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Savage . . . Mr. Dooling's caricatures of self -important or senile doctors are wickedly clever." --The Atlantic Monthly

From the Publisher

7 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard Dooling is the author of White Man's Grave (Picador), a 1994 National Book Award finalist, and Blue Streak: Swearing, Free Speech, and Sexual Harassment. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, and Story. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.
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