28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Comical and eye-opening look at the making of a surgeon
, April 25, 2011
This review is from: In Stitches (Hardcover)
I'm sure Anthony Youn could tell many riveting, funny stories about being a plastic surgeon, but what gems he has about the road to becoming one!
Obviously, a success beyond even what his father dreamt for him - with a thriving practice and multiple appearances on television and now a book - how Youn got to where he is today is loaded with anecdotes. In Stitches moved fast through Youn's childhood, college, and med school days, with two continuous themes: his path to surgery (set for him by his strict but loving father) and his very bumpy road to find love. Okay, actually, not love, just, in his words "to get laid."
From having his enormous jaw broken as a teen and reset (ouch!) and being repeatedly rejected by women (double ouch!), I felt for the self-deprecating and personable Youn. I cringed often and at one point just cried when he tells of The Moment when he knew he would be a surgeon - witnessing a terribly disfigured victim brought into the emergency room. While this was an important moment, Youn, however, doesn't tell the aftermath. Was the surgery successful? What ever happened to the victim?
It's hard to pick my favorite part of the book as each stage of Youn's life towards becoming a surgeon is full of fascinating moments ranging from wierd to wierder. Here's a snippet of one the stranger interviews he went for his residency which had me, yes, in stitches. And remember, this interview was conducted by a doctor - someone who holds people's lives in his hands --- scary!
"An attending surgeon leads me into his office. He stands behind his desk and stares at me. I don't know whether to sit, so I don't. I face him, shifting my weight nervously, waiting for him to give me some indication of how to proceed. Finally, he points to a chair. We sit simultaneously. He reaches behind him and places on his desk a sculpture of three monkeys in "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" pose.
"He claps his hands. 'IT'S MONKEY TIME!' He shouts.
"I practically fly out of my chair.
"'It's MONKEY TIME!'" he screams again, then says quietly, "Discuss." He places a stopwatch next to the monkey sculpture. 'You have thirty seconds to impress me...Doctor.' He clicks on the stopwatch.
"How the hell do I get out of here?"
An aspect of the memoir that disturbed me was Youn's seeming aversion to his own Asian-ness. When he first goes to med school in Michigan, he is horrified to find the halls full of other Asians (where are all the white people?!) and his dorm smelling like Thai food. The sense of irony in these scenes aren't as clear, especially coupled with his continuous mimicry of his Korean father's accented English for comic effect. An interesting thing to explore would be if his career as a plastic surgeon might be related to an underlying psychological need to re-make his Asian-ness.
Otherwise, In Stitches is a Scrubs-style look into the making of a surgeon - comical, poignant and eye-opening.
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