Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine

A Doctor's Stories

Book - 2014 | First edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Out of the crucible of medical training, award-winning writer Terrence Holt shapes this stunning account of residency, the years-long ordeal in which doctors are made. "Amid all the mess and squalor of the hospital, with its blind random unraveling of lives," Internal Medicine finds the compassion from which doctors discover the strength to care.Holt's debut collection of short stories, In the Valley of the Kings, was praised by the New York Times Book Review as one of "those works of genius" that "will endure for as long as our hurt kind remains to require their truth." Now he returns with Internal Medicine--a work based on his own experiences as a physician-- offering an insider's access to the long night of the hospital, where the intricacies of medical technology confront the mysteries of the human spirit."A Sign of Weakness" takes us through a grueling nightlong vigil at the bedside of a dying woman. In her "small whimpering noises, rhythmic, paced almost to the beating of my heart," a doctor confronts his own helplessness, clinging "like a child to the thought of morning." In the unforgettable "Giving Bad News," we struggle with a man who maddeningly, terrifyingly refuses to remember his terminal diagnosis, forcing us to tell him, again and again, what we never should have wanted to tell him at all.At the bedside of a hospice patient dying in a house full of cursing parrots, in "The Surgical Mask," we reach the limits of what we are able to face in human suffering, in our own horror at what happens to our bodies as they die.In the psychiatric hospital of "Iron Maiden," a routine chest X-ray opens a window onto a nightmare vision of medieval torture and a recognition of how our mortality drives all of us to madness.In these four stories, and five others, Internal Medicine captures the doctor's struggle not only with sickness, suffering, and death but the fears and frailties each of us--patient and doctor alike--brings to the bedside. In a powerful alchemy of insight and compassion, Holt reveals how those vulnerabilities are the foundations of caring. Intensely realized, gently ironic, heartfelt and heartbreaking, Internal Medicine is an account of what it means to be a doctor, to be mortal, and to be human.
Publisher: New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, [2014]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ?2014
ISBN: 9780871408754
Branch Call Number: 616 HOL
Characteristics: xii, 273 pages


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 15, 2019

Very good. Seems like an honest portrayal of the responsibilities and fears of being a physician. Several of the essays really grab you.

Mar 07, 2015

You are going to read about the formative years of a physician's training - some of the raw emotions triggered by human contact with patients, staff and colleagues. For anyone in medicine or the healing arts, it will constantly trigger memories and nods, as is yup, been there. For the non-medical reader, it will provide some insight into hospital-based medicine, hospice care, and what its like to step into someone else's home. It is a personalized account that will reward you with an interesting and engaging read.

ksoles Dec 10, 2014

Not just another "life in the ER" doctor memoir, "Internal Medicine" blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction in compiling nine fact-based stories. Having earned an M.F.A. in creative writing and a Ph.D. in English before studying medicine, Terrence Holt wields his unique talent here; as he explains in the introduction, he decided that the best way to capture the essence of his journey through residency without violating patient confidentiality was to write a series of “parables” that drew on his own experiences. Indeed, the collection rings true in both details and spirit, beginning with a doctor’s first night on call as an intern and ending with ethical questions that a physician ponders 40 months post-residency.

Each of Holt's accounts compels the reader and provokes thought: the narrator faces a dying woman who needs oxygen but finds the mask claustrophobic; cancer eats away at the mouth and jaw of an artist; a psychiatric patient self-inflicts horrific pain. In a particularly poignant scene, Holt tells a young woman of her imminent death: “I’d like to say that I held her, or said soothing words. But I don’t hold female patients, even when they cry, and I had no soothing words. I knelt there and I watched her, and struggled to comprehend what I saw.”

How can a doctor best comfort patients such as these? What exactly is in a physician's job description? How do medical professionals cope with endless dilemmas and a myriad of personalities? Dr. Holt never settles for easy answers. The questions he poses reflect the frequent uncertainties of doctors and patients alike and will leave readers thinking long after they close the book's cover.

mvkramer Oct 28, 2014

This is a meditative set of anecdotes. Not much heartwarming subject matter here - stories focus on death, dying, and the strange ways the mind and body can fail. A good book for fans of poetry - conveying haunting atmosphere and evoking deep feeling in just a few words.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at EPL

To Top