it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

  • Music:

maybe once in a lifetime you'll hold one in your hand.

SF Signal liked Scardown a lot. Not too spoilery.

Book # 44: Wendy Moore, The Knife Man: Blood, Body-Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery;

This is the UK edition. The US edition has a different subtitle. And yes, I have more or less been reading it since I got back from the UK, though intermittently.

It's a biography of Georgian (the time period, not the state or the nation) anatomist John Hunter--both somewhat over-apologetic of his foibles, and intermittently fascinating. The author sometimes has a really sharp ear for a turn of phrase, but often the good sentences are buried under a lot of thrashing, and the narrative in general tends to be repetitive and boggy. It could have done with a good editing.

And some of the speculation-toward-explaining-mistakes is a little wearying. We all kind of fall in love with out historical subjects while we're writing about them, but I'm not sure it's necessary to invent excuses for a three hundred year old misdiagnosis.

On the other hand, the actual subject matter is fantastic. John Hunter himself is the kind of character you could hang all sorts of storytelling on, both fiction and nonfiction, and have it work the better for it. Irascible, adamantine, self-educated, meticulous, obsessed.... a fascinating creature. And the details of his research and treatment processes are both incredibly gross, and incredibly useful. (I now can tell you what the mucous lining the ureter tastes like, if you care.)

So, overall, a thumbs up. But a 535-page book (sans endnotes) that had enough material for a crisp four hundred pages, about.
Tags: 52 book challenge, jenny casey, reviews

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