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Garcia's Heart: A Novel Hardcover – November 13, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (November 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312367082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312367084
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,668,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Neurologist Durcan (A Short Journey by Car) dissects the ethics involved when politics, medicine and violence collide in this finely wrought novel about a neurologist turned biotech entrepreneur who travels to The Hague to witness his mentor's war crimes trial. Patrick Lazerenko is a punk teen in Montreal when he first meets Hernan García, the Spanish immigrant owner of a neighborhood grocery store. Caught trying to vandalize Hernan's store, Patrick is roped into working off the damages and soon finds himself attached to the García family. When Patrick sees Hernan's backroom medical consultations with local immigrants, he is inspired to become a doctor himself. Years later, a journalist exposes Hernan—dubbed the Angel of Lepaterique—as having been mixed up in the CIA-backed torture of subversive citizens in Honduras in the 1980s. Parallels to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are acute (and even overtly identified) as Hernan is accused of witnessing and aiding in detainee torture. Subplots involving a devious political think-tank, the long-expired romance between Patrick and Hernan's daughter and the goings-on at Patrick's company, provide a rich backdrop to the trial, but the centerpiece is the mélange of complex feelings that arise within Patrick, who finds himself simultaneously condemning and rooting for Hernan. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for García’s Heart

 

“Liam Durcan raises complex and important issues in García’s Heart, exposing the frailty of human nature against the background of medical science.... An intelligent book, thought provoking and satisfying---a meditation on the workings of the mind.”

---Clare Morrall, author of Astonishing Splashes of Colour

 

“Eloquent and haunting, García’s Heart fearlessly explores the moral ambiguities of the modern world. Durcan demonstrates his supreme versatility with his psychologically penetrating, technically assured, yet empathic and human portrait of a man struggling to come to terms with a terrible angel.”

---Eden Robinson, author of Monkey Beach

 

“With this remarkable debut novel, Liam Durcan...has firmly ensconced himself within the hallowed ranks of doctors making successful forays into literature, a line running straight from Chekhov through William Carlos Williams and W. Somerset Maugham.”

---Quill & Quire

 

“Durcan’s language is sculpted with seemingly effortless precision. His sentences are rich with detail and metaphor, luxurious with reference and allusion, but also lean and raw, getting straight to the point of what he wants to describe.”

---Literary Review of Canada



Following his 2004 short story collection, A Short Journey by Car, Durcan's outstanding debut novel walks a taut line between skillful thriller and philosophical novel of ideas. Though he has yet to develop fully his authorial powers and talent, he already writes with an ease reminiscent of Graham Greene. Durcan crafts a character whose background in neurology and medicine--Durcan is himself a neurologist--deftly informs the action. Drawn from Montreal to the Hague to witness the war crimes trial of former mentor Hernan García, Patrick Lazerenko must confront a landslide of moral, political, and personal questions that haunt and confront him at all stages of his association with the Spanish immigrant and his family. As the plot unfolds, the novel takes on a breathtaking immediacy that will awe readers and tune them into probing ethical dilemmas. Suitable for all public and academic libraries.


(Christopher Bussmann, Pratt Inst. Libs., Brooklyn Library Journal)

*STARRED REVIEW* What prompts an honorable man to commit unspeakable acts? That's one of many moral conundrums considered in Durcan's compelling debut. As the novel opens, Boston neurologist Patrick Lazerenko has arrived at The Hague to witness the war crimes trial of Hernan García de la Cruz, a onetime physician from Honduras who became a mentor and friend to Patrick during his formative years in Montreal. Is it possible that Hernan, the man who inspired Patrick to become a doctor, once used his medical knowledge for evil, torturing political subversives in his native land? In his work back in Boston, Patrick researches the brain's role in the decision-making process. Might that cutting-edge expertise now help exonerate Hernan? As the trial moves forward, Patrick retreats into the past, recalling his affection for the García family and his love for Hernan's spirited daughter, Celia. Canadian neurologist and short story writer Durcan (A Short Journey by Car, 2004) renders satisfyingly (Allison Block Booklist)

A judgment on the world stage tests the ethical resolve of a scientist troubled by the crimes of war.
Canadian neurologist and award-winning writer Durcan (A Short Journey By Car, 2004) plumbs his stock in trade to inform this audacious literary debut, its purpose no less than finding a window to the soul. When Boston-based neurologist Patrick Lazerenko arrives inauspiciously at the Hague on a miserable November day, even his cab driver knows who he's here to see. The city is gripped by the trial of Hernan García de la Cruz, a Honduran physician whose alleged complicity in CIA-backed torture earned him the sobriquet, "The Angel of Lapaterique." The good doctor refuses to speak in the courtroom but Lazerenko's memories portray a once-decent man corrupted by the kismet of politics. In fact, García was once a father figure to Patrick, whose rough, ill-disciplined childhood was turned around by the doctor's care and attention. Far from his humble roots, Lazerenko has built a successful co (Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews)

Neurologist Durcan (A Short Journey by Car) dissects the ethics involved when politics, medicine and violence collide in this finely wrought novel about a neurologist turned biotech entrepreneur who travels to The Hague to witness his mentor's war crimes trial. Patrick Lazerenko is a punk teen in Montreal when he first meets Hernan García, the Spanish immigrant owner of a neighborhood grocery store. Caught trying to vandalize Hernan's store, Patrick is roped into working off the damages and soon finds himself attached to the García family. When Patrick sees Hernan's backroom medical consultations with local immigrants, he is inspired to become a doctor himself. Years later, a journalist exposes Hernan-dubbed the Angel of Lepaterique-as having been mixed up in the CIA-backed torture of subversive citizens in Honduras in the 1980s. Parallels to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are acute (and even overtly identified) as Hernan is accused of witnessing and aiding in detainee torture. Subplots inv (Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott George on June 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The first thing I was stunned by when I started reading this first work by Liam Durcan was the precision in the style of writing and the structure of the novel. His character development is compelling and his use of symbolism is not overapplied (although some are a little obvious). I imagine this novel would be categorized as a thriller, but the most fascinating aspect is the psychological impact of the events on the main character.

Duncan is clearly making parallels to the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The refreshing part is that his treatment is not heavyhanded. There is moralizing, but it is of the self-examining type.

This is a very strong effort by a new writer. I highly recommend.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In Montreal teenage Patrick Lazerenko was just another aimless street punk until he was caught vandalizing the Bodega owned by immigrant, Hernan García. However, Patrick got off soft as he is allowed to work off the damage he caused. He becomes part of the Garcia family and considers Hernan as a father figure. In fact it is Hernan's illegal practice helping Central American immigrants with health issues that inspires Patrick to attend medical school and become a doctor.

Decades later, Hernan is exposed as the Angel of Lepaterique, who was part of a CIA sponsored group that tortured Hondurans during the Reagan era. Hernan is brought to The Hague to stand trial as a war criminal accused of abetting detainee torture. Unable to ignore his mentor in trouble and needing to know the truth, Patrick travels to Europe unable to reconcile the man who saved him and gave so much to immigrants in Montreal with the person who could be part of a group torturing dissidents.

Patrick holds together this superb contemporary character study as readers observe his myriad of emotions as his hero whom he placed on a pedestal crumbles to the ground. On the one hand he wants Hernan to be exonerated, but also begins to believe his mentor did the nasty deeds. Complicating his feelings towards his father figure is seeing his former lover Hernan's daughter Celia with in your face references that imply war crime trials for those in charge and participating at Abu Ghraib and Guantomino is appropriate.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth D. Penn on February 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Liam Durcan takes the reader into the head of Patrick Lazerenko, the graffiti artist teen, the young doctor and the neuroscientist working to help Globomart (the world's largest retailer) read the minds of its customers. With extensive references to Montreal's NDG area, Den Haag and loaded with medical facts, this book continually peaked my interest, keeping me online looking at maps and information to fill in the voids in my knowledge. What a treat to be entertained and motivated to learn at the same time.

The character development is captivating. Masterfully crafted, the twists in the book could be anticipated in retrospect, but the magic of the author is that they never are. A good solid read, "Garcia's Heart" will have me eagerly searching for more work from this author.
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