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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 7, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found this to be a delightful and humorous account of the life of typical small town medical doctor facing real everyday problems, not the hectic and dramatic but totally false events shown in movie or TV medical dramas. The author tells his story as sort of the Marcus Welby, MD of the fictional town of Dumster, VT which is a stand in for Windsor, VT. The good doctor appears to be a rather self-deprecating person, although learned having graduated from Harvard Medical School, and later worked at UC Berkeley Hospital system,Grady in Atlanta, Temple in Philadelphia plus being an adjunct professor at Dartmouth. I see the author as sort of Garrison Keillor transplanted to Vermont.

But let me say that I agree with some of the other reviewers that the chosen names for some of the characters in these allegorical sketches do get a bit grating after a while. Some examples are Paul and Melinda Barker-Purris for the husband and wife vet team, Muriel Goode and Olive Best for the spinster sisters who lived together for so many years that you couldn't tell them apart, plus too many others to mention, but you get the idea. However, all that aside, they are but minor points in the entirety of what the author has to say, and I think he says it quite well. The book is really a series of homilies and even a soliloquy or two thrown in for good measure; there is a strong moral perspective throughout. The writing is humorous without being of the belly laugh variety, but more of a humorous bent. My favorite chapter came late in the book and was called AMERICANITIS, in which the author tries to explain to a hypochondriacal patient how the psychiatric/psychological disorder/symptom of neurasthenia has morphed into the more modern term Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

You won't roll on the floor laughing, but I think most people will enjoy the humor without any four-letter words used, and may actually see what life for a small town doctor is really like. A similar book but with individual accounts from a myriad of practitioners in various locales that I also thoroughly enjoyed was THE COUNTRY DOCTOR REVISITED edited by Therese Zink, MD.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
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Dr Beach Conger writes about his life as a physician, the people he treats and the communities he lives in. He is disparaging of medical centers and specialists in particular. He prefers to be in control of the kind of medicine he practices, and that is the philosophy of most physicians. But, this is the modern times, like it or not, and it seems Dr Conger is not going to change even a little bit with the times.

Dr Conger and wife moved from California to Vermont after reading a year or two of 'Vermont Life'. This seemed to be the area that fit them the best. Dr Conger wanted to practice medicine the 'real way', and his wife wanted to go to Law School. All was happy for several years until Dr Conger and his wife decided they wanted to work in the big city for awhile. They chose Philadelphia and this was not a wise choice, none of the old 'only one physician' in charge here. Dr Conger didn't quite fit in. Back to Vermont where stories of his patients are told through semi-factual characters. Dr Conger, though self deprecating at times, seems to know the answer to all that is wrong with the medical profession these days. Those stories get very old for the reader. This is not the charming tale of a country physician and his Vermont patients, but more a practicum of his philosophy of what medical practice should be. Not an enjoyable read.

prisob 10-03-11

Bag Balm and Duct Tape: Tales of a Vermont Doctor
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 27, 2011
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Was anticipating a series of amusing stories, and they just weren't there. Lot of political position statements made, and I did agree fully with many of them; but just could stick with the story. Was bored, bored and finally just bailed. It did not entertain me enough to try and finish it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 12, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
At first glance this book might appear to be an old-time doctor's look back at his rural career, replete with farm accidents and holiday pageants gone wrong. I could not have been more wrong.
The author has worked at all of the top places, including the CDC and top medical schools. Although there are many cute anecdotes, what I was not expecting was the comparison of hands-on doctoring at a small, rural hospital in Vermont to the more sterile, rigid rules at a large Philadelphia hospital. His reflections include where medicine is heading, what doctors are asked to do versus what they should do, and that adding complexity to the system is not always the best approach.

Writing wise, the book is a relatively easy read, definitely good vacation reading. There are a few places where chapters end abruptly, right in the middle of an anecdote, which made the transitions very choppy. Given the informed voice and unique stories this book contains, I was more than willing to overlook minor formatting issues.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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I was enamored with this book! I found it lively and anecdotal.

As a retired nurse I was totally able to relate with Dr. Conger's stories of the amazing country folk of Vermont. [I have many tales of my own which I was able to relate to some of his characters!]

Through his relationship with his patients, to their every quirk and fancy, every ailment, and every imagined one, I felt that Conger made his charcters come to life! I felt by the end of each chapter that I knew the individuals of whom he wrote about! And that is so rare in today's authors.

To my amazement, Conger shares a wit and sense of humor that I was so in-tune with. I laughed and cried throughout the book. Loving every single chapter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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This book is by a doctor who worked in Vermont in a small hospital and then moved to the bigger city and then back to Vermont.

I completely enjoyed the stories he has about some of the people he met and got to know during his practice. I appreciated his humor and his enjoyment of the people and places. He seemed to have a self depreciating humor about himself.

Based on the title of this book, you expect this to be a book full of this time of stories. Short remembrances, simple vignettes of his life as a Vermont country doctor. It is not completely that because it covers stories from his stay in Philadelphia. That is ok. In fact one of his funniest stories is from his big city practice.

However, as other reviewers have noted; this author strays into the political commentary at times and that distracts from the basic remembrances you expect. I don't necessarily agree with this stance but he has some valid arguments. And I think some of the commentary and political opinion is inevitable as he compares his experiences between small town Vermont practice to a large town insurance driven practice. Especially as at the time of his writing this the medical debate was on between Republicans and Democrats in Washington. This commentary though distracts from the stories he has to share and distracts from the people and places he wants us to know about.

I would give this a lower four star review because although this is an enjoyable memoir, it is more than that and yet not really. It is a commentary on the medical system and yet it doesn't go deep enough to be that so it's not really a commentary on how doctors practice medicine. It is an observation about the insurance system yet it doesn't go far enough and explain enough. If he wanted to use this book as a vehicle for teaching us how the current medical system could be better; he needed to explain more and go more in depth than he did in this book. If he wanted to keep it as a memoir, then he needed to avoid the political input.

enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 24, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a fun and sometimes informative book, a little bit reminiscent of Garrison Keillor's Tales of Lake Woebegone, but told with a dry, sardonic wit. The book consists of many stories, some of which are funnier than others. The author is at his best when he blasts the medical profession and all the nonsense that goes on surrounding it. He has a lovely way of giving the doctor's point of view, even revealing that at times he really does not know the answer to a patient's problem, but feels compelled to present a diagnosis, if only to "get credit for it" if it is the correct one.

I for one appreciate his candor here, and his willingness to poke fun at himself and others in his field... refreshing, considering how infrequently doctors open up about such things, even in jest.

Some of the other stories are less scintillating, and sometimes lacking in warmth, but overall the book is quite entertaining, and the best stories are very good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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I loved this book. It made me laugh out loud in places and it made me think in others. After 25 years of a country practice, the Dr. decides to practice in one of the poorer areas of Philadelphia. As someone who has lived in Philadelphia, I enjoyed reading about places I knew. The Dr.'s adventures and misadventures make for good reading while, at the same time, made me realize that we are never to old to completely change our lives and take on new challenges. I read this book in one sitting on a quiet Sunday afternoon. It was a real pleasure and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 7, 2011
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I was not wowed by this book.

Contrary to the title, Beach Conger is not just writing about being a Vermont Country Doctor. He also spends time treating patients in the poorest part of Philadelphia (which he calls Other Philadelphia, I have no idea whether people really call it that). One of his goals is apparently to contrast doctoring in the two locales. This goal, like others, is not fully realized.

Beach (which is admittedly a really cool name) seems to go for a combination of James Herriott and Bill Bryson, adding in a little political health care commentary. It doesn't really hang together for me. His voice is not strong. I imagine he would be a hard person to really know.

This book is a combination of fiction and memoir. He alludes to this at the beginning of the book and clarifies it somewhat in the last chapter. The comparison to James Herriott is unavoidable. Herriott works much better because a) you never really knew whether the characters were real or imagined or a composite, and he didn't feel it necessary to tell you; and b) it was a different place and time. Here we are dealing with more or less current events. We must decide whether to believe people really act like this or talk like this.

The names Conger chooses for his patients are problematic. It makes me wonder whether he is really having a good laugh at their expense. They are jokey and sometimes a bit snarky. Reading this from more of a patient point of view, it makes me uneasy. Do most doctors make fun of their patients behind their backs? It diminishes the credibility of anything else he says - and he does have strong opinions about the state of health care in America today.

We also get a little bit of history, particularly New England history and the history of medical developments through the ages. This is pretty interesting, even if he tends to ramble on too long in these passages.

It's not a terrible book (faint praise, I know). The thing is, it pretty much fails my main criterion for a memoir (or quasi-memoir in this case): do I want to know this person better? I'm sorry to say Beach Conger seems kind of dull. It took me a long time to get to the end of this book. I don't believe he has any affection for his patients or for Vermont, which seems to me essential if one were to write a book like this. From the title, I thought it was going to be a fun book to read. It was more serious than I expected. That would have been OK, if Beach Conger were a more dynamic author.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 11, 2011
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The last time I read anything by this author, Beach Conger, MD, was in 1989 when the book "Bag Balm and Duct Tape" came out. I enjoyed those stories about Dr. Conger's adventures of a Vermont country doctor then and I have enjoyed the stories now in 2011. I find Dr. Conger's style of writing so witty but so descriptive that it feels like you are working side-by-side with him and experiencing everything that he has experienced. Maybe because I have lived in New England (albeit Connecticut) and I now live in Baltimore and have visited Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on occasion, I feel a kinship with this author's experiences. I am also a nurse and have been for 33 years, so many of his experiences seem to be my experiences as well. I can relate. Even if you have no idea about the medical environment, I think most people would like this book. It is about people, about humanity, and the myriad issues that people have. It is about living and dying and the crazy world we live in. I found myself laughing, crying, frowning, smiling, and just simply getting lost in Dr. Conger's world.

It has simply been too long since his last adventures but better later than never! I am a grateful reader. This book is a gem!
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