"The Surgeon's Obol" by Arthur Williams
This wryly comic and academically enlightening look at the professional day-to-day in the working life of a hospital surgery intern, based on real-life stories and experiences, is a real treat, if a little hard to stomach at times – as is the nature of this type of book: i.e. medical profession fly-on-the-wall. There are a lot of this extremely popular and growing genre coming into print these days, and although I have to say they really don’t appeal to me personally (as someone married into the NHS, I get more than my fair share of anecdotes), this is undeniably a particularly good one. The writing is superb; Arthur Williams (writing as A. Stuart) is undoubtedly not only an expert in the field of surgery, but also an extremely gifted author, who knows how to craft narrative, present language and deliver some cracking humour and interaction in the process – every character is a character all of their own, as if giving weight to the age-old adage “You’ve got to laugh…”. To commemorate this, the author considerately leaves the book with a parting bio of one or two of them.
Another reason I’m personally not a fan of medical procedure books is that they have a tendency to indulge in the vulgarity of bodily excretion gross-out detail; I’m not interested in that at all, have no intention of subjecting myself to it and question those who enjoy doing so. That said, there is a fair amount in this book and, I won’t lie, I did skip over these paragraphs. The blood, organs and brutal surgery, however, I don’t have a problem with at all, and for the most part found Williams’s accounts of operating procedure fascinating. Additionally, in my opinion, medical procedure books written by working professionals are often no more than the writers showboating their knowledge, often without any particular regard for how good they are as writers. The Surgeon’s Obol, however, is nothing of the sort; it is much more: high quality, humorous fiction, and Williams is a superb author – you can’t help thinking that his writing would have been as good on any given subject. However, sadly the proof is not in great shape; there are a lot of grammatical errors, to tell the truth, particularly where spelling and punctuation are concerned, which really don’t do justice to a book of so many other decent qualities.
Very anecdotal and heavy on banter and witty dialogue – that’s just the point of The Surgeon’s Obol. It may not be up my street in terms of the subject matter, but just how well written, engaging and entertaining this book is definitely isn’t lost on me. A great read, and as good a medical profession exposé as I’ve seen to date.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: arthur-williams comedy fiction medical-profession medicine surgeon