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Diary Hardcover – March 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“No matter where [Richard Selzer] takes us, we follow, because he has the storyteller’s gift.”—New Yorker
(New Yorker)

"No one writes about the practice of medicine with Selzer's unique combination of mystery and wonder."—Los Angeles Times
(Los Angeles Times)

"Selzer has a grace all his own, both as a prose stylist and as a surgeon...patients everywhere should applaud the medical school administrators who make his books required reading: They teach young doctors humility, kindness, and compassion."—Susan Balée, The Philadelphia Inquirer
(Philadelphia Inquirer)

"There is little he cannot achieve with the written word"--Robert Nathan, New York Times Book Review
(Robert Nathan)

"[Richard Selzer writes of] the care of the terminal and the treatment of the frail with such vividness and a disarming awe that it is hard to imagine he has not lived through most of what he recounts."--Fitzhugh Mullan on The Doctor Stories in Washington Post Book World
(Washington Post Book World)

“Worth the price of admission for Selzer's longtime fans, whose numbers will swell as newcomers become intrigued and delighted by his wit, perception, and skillful use of language.”—William Beatty on The Exact Location of the Soul in Booklist

(William Beatty)

"With unflinching eyes and a poet's skill . . . Selzer enables us to see our bodies in previously unconsidered ways ."—James Schiff, Book Summit
(Book Summit)

"A passionate, unsentimental celebration of life's messiness, whether on an operating table or at a dining table."—Kirkus Review on The Exact Location of the Soul
(Kirkus Review)

"A terrible beauty of a book, full of love and pain and a palpable rich sadness that will stay with a reader forever"--Library Journal on Down from Troy
(Library Journal)

“Richard Selzer does for medicine what Jacques Cousteau does for the sea. He transports the reader to a world that most of us never see, a world that is vivid and powerful, often overwhelming, occasionally fantastic...His marvelous insight and potent imagery make his tales of surgery and medicine both works of art and splendid tools of instruction.”—Fitzhugh Mullan on Letters to a Young Doctor in the New York Times Book Review

(Fitzhugh Mullan)

"[Selzer is] known for his rich language and Diary doesn't disappoint: It's infused with spicy metaphors, toothsome images and the pungent vocabulary of medicine. . . . At once his descriptions are offensive and wonderful."—Anna Reisman, New Haven Advocate
(Anna Reisman New Haven Advocate)

“The spiky brilliance and episodes of vivid experience that share the pages of the Diary with essay-length reflections give the collection as a whole a restive, fugitive rhythm. . . . A provocative experience.”—Eric Banks, Bookforum
(Eric Banks Bookforum)

“A heroic translation . . . English-speaking readers can finally experience the diary as Gombrowicz intended it—as a single, coherent work . . . his major creative endeavor.”—Ruth Franklin, New Yorker
(Ruth Franklin New Yorker)

About the Author

Richard Selzer is a former surgeon and Yale School of Medicine professor. He is the author of several collections of stories and essays, including Letters to a Young Doctor and Raising the Dead. He lives in New Haven, CT.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300124619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300124613
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,956,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William J. Hall on January 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Richard Selzer for the past 40+ years. I first encountered him when he was a young (and very skilled) surgeon and I a beginning medical resident at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Any surgeon who would get up at the wee hours of the morning to hone his skills in creative writing and still took the time to teach fledgling doctors had to be admired. Sunsequently, as his writing career flourished, I began to read everything he wrote. His perceptive prose has informed me more about my profession than most of the legendary academic stars at Yale. I owe many of my own values to his writing. Diary is a very different offering than anything he has done previously. The book represents the true soul of this thoughtful, perceptive, and ultimately humble man. It is a quintessential act of life reflection that we all strive for as we age but rarely are able to articulate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marie Borroff on November 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful book, providing a clear window into the psyche of a complex and compassionate human being who happens to be a trained doctor. A miniature Ulysses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Baumli on August 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Selzer is a great writer, and this book gives insight into the private recesses of his personal life, as well as into the tussles of his work as a doctor and author. But his observations are, after all, edited from a diary--which was written in a slapdash form and scarcely evinces either literary skill or the penchant for ingenious insight one experiences with most of Selzer's writing. It is a manifold of impressions, but it is entirely bereft of wisdom. I recommend this book for Selzer enthusiasts who want to read everything he has written, but it is not something to be recommended to someone looking for "a good read," much less, a book that scales the literary heights.
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