It’s been thirty years since the first report of a cluster of an unusual skin cancer among gay men in San Francisco appeared in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Unfortunately, this was the harbinger of the AIDS epidemic. By 1985, AIDS had come to rural, conservative Tennessee, so very distant from The Castro or Greenwich Village. Dr. Abraham Verghese chronicled the fear and uncertainty of that era in My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story. I have been enchanted with Dr. Verghese’s work since then and have lent out my copy of The Tennis Partner often enough that it hasn’t come back to me.
I am late to the game in praising Cutting for Stone, which has been on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 73 weeks. This is the perfect book for an e-reader: the original book is 688 pages. I find my iPad a delight to read when traveling and at home (I can make the ‘print’ larger and one can read in dim light). Even better are the built-in dictionary and Google/Wiki links. There is a lot of medical terminology in Cutting for Stone as well as references to modern African history. The story is so much richer when the vocabulary and literary references are understood.
Dr. Verghese writes of what is lost and what is found and the healing of the most profound wounds. I just finished this book – now I shall read it again. Dr. Verghese has published shorter works in the New Yorker and other publications; I have never been disappointed.An open offer to my patients – you are welcome to look at my anatomy atlases if you get lost. However, the writing is so masterful you probably won’t.