Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories

by Vincent Lam

September 26, 2006 | Trade Paperback

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories is rated 3.3846 out of 5 by 13.
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures welcomes readers into a world where the most mundane events can quickly become life or death. By following four young medical students and physicians – Ming, Fitz, Sri and Chen – this debut collection from 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Vincent Lam is a riveting, eye-opening account of what it means to be a doctor. Deftly navigating his way through 12 interwoven short stories, the author explores the characters’ relationships with each other, their patients, and their careers. Lam draws on his own experience as an emergency room physician and shares an insider’s perspective on the fears, frustrations, and responsibilities linked with one of society’s most highly regarded occupations.

“I wanted to write about the way in which a person changes as they become a physician — how their world view shifts, and how they become a slightly different version of themselves in the process of becoming a doctor,” Lam explains. “I wanted to write about the reality that doing good and trying to help others is not simple. It is ethically complicated and sometimes involves a reality that can only be expressed by telling a story.”

In the book’s first story, “How to Get into Medical School, Part 1,” students Ming and Fitz wrestle with their opposing personalities and study techniques, while coming to terms with a growing emotional connection that elicits disapproval from Ming’s traditional Chinese-Canadian parents. Lam’s exceptional talent for describing scenarios with great precision is showcased in “Take All of Murphy,” when Ming, Chen, and Sri find themselves at a moral crossroads while dissecting a cadaver. Throughout the book, readers are treated to the physicians’ internal thoughts and the mental drama involved with treating patients, including Fitz’s struggle with self-doubt in “Code Clock” and Chen’s boredom and exhaustion in “Before Light.”

From delivering babies to evacuating patients and dealing with deadly viruses, the four primary characters in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures are made thoroughly human by Lam’s insightful detail, realistic dialogue, and expert storytelling. The medical world is naturally filled with drama, but it’s the author’s ability to give equal weight to the smaller moments that really brings this book to life.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.94 in

Published: September 26, 2006

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385661444

ISBN - 13: 9780385661447

Found in: Fiction and Literature

save 27%

  • In stock online

$13.64  ea

Online Price

$17.95 List Price

or, Used from $5.00

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Fell short... "Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures" by Vincent Lam is a series of short stories told in perspective of four medical students and the lives as doctors. This book was recommended to me by a sales associate at my local chapters after I asked him to refer me to a novel that was different. "Different: was the only thing I expected out of this book that came through, everything else fell short. There were loads of potential in the novel but one major thing the prevented me from loving it or even liking this book was character development. I did not "care" for the characters. I was not emotionally connected or moved by there sadness, happiness or there life. I read for the enjoyment of learning a few facts here and there. Everything else was a disappointment.
Date published: 2010-08-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Unique This is a very unique book. It tells of different medical situtations and the doctors involved. As I started the book I wasn't too sure if I was going to enjoy it , but it gets better as you continue. If you enjoy medical books or television shows this book is for you. It kept me intrigued right to the end.
Date published: 2008-03-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page turner with good results I began reading this book thinking it was going to be a story about some med students and their time in medical school -- something similar to TLC's "Life in the E.R. - Interns". Vincent Lam surprised me in his consistency and depth into each of his characters. Not only did I get to follow four students through their struggles in school, but the reader is allowed a glimpse into their lives as professionals and adults, and the choices they have made to get there. It made them much more human and realistic. I was somewhat disappointed in the ending, and felt it was a little abrupt -- Lam could have tied up a couple of his main characters a little better, but overall, a fantastic read. I was thoroughly entertained in its entirety.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book This is an amazing book. The writing is wonderful, the characters seem so real you feel you know them and you get a real feel for the place and time. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2007-11-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Ugh I expected an excellent book -- after all, this won the Giller. Unfortunately, it's a series of stories about a group of unlikable people that I was entirely unable to connect with. Big disappointment.
Date published: 2007-07-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read. I agree with the other reviews - the book is not the kind of read where you find yourself submerged in empathy with the characters. What makes this book unique is that it is a clinical study of the characters and events. The author is precise and detached in his language and the characters leave you with a slight metallic taste in your mouth or a squint as if they are being seen from a great distance. It is a little like reading a textbook on the subject rather than a work of fiction but I think that is part of what gives it such a strong connection to the subject matter. You wouldn't expect a book about medical students and the practice of medicine to read the same as say, One L. Different professions different styles. If you are looking to read an episode of ER though I would suggest you look again.
Date published: 2007-06-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Great Start for Vincent Lam I liked the book, and found that it was generally good literature. However, I did find it hard to identify with any of the main characters. The book was somewhat cold, and lacked a certain chemistry between the medical students. Adding more warmth and humanity could've improved the overall entertainment value of the book immensely- but wouldn't haven't gotten Lam the Giller prize. I liked how the book was written honestly though, and appreciate that sometimes a zebra is just a horse.
Date published: 2007-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Deserves the Giller! A great read! The common threads that are woven through each story bring this collection together. I found it a fast read, and while some stories are a little more interesting than others, it was still a great book overall.
Date published: 2007-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from surprisingly tender I'm a nurse by background so was interested in seeing how Dr. Lam put together his stories of medical education - having been part of medical education for several years, it's nice to get a view from the other side. Plus, I had to admit I was a bit jealous that he should win the Giller prize after one novel... So in I plunged, into the stories of Ming and Fitzgerald and Chen and Sri, and I was overwhelmed. Each of the interconnected stories opens a window into some aspect of working in health care and being a patient - and each of the windows are flooded with light. Lam has captured the true essence of the pathos and joy and beauty and ugliness in each encounter with sensitivity and wisdom. Tales of working in the anatomy lab were exactly right on, in capturing the mixed feelings students have about working with cadavers and the additional pressures of trying to learn every miniscule little vein and nerve. Of all of the stories, the ones about SARS affected me the least, perhaps because the feeling around SARS was still too strong to write about coherently when this book was written. The tale of the nurses' lottery was done extremely well, and captured some of the fear and sacrifice during that time. I was surprised and charmed by this book. Read it. It will give you an understanding of what that new doc examining you the next time you go to a doctor's office has just passed through. Bear in mind, though, that not all doctors show Dr. Lam's depth of understanding of human motivations.
Date published: 2007-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Giller winner! The best part of this book is the fact that it is not "dumbed down" for the ordinary schmo. The stories in it are well written, and deserving of recognition. I'm glad I took the time to pick it up.
Date published: 2006-12-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed The first couple of chapters were emotionally riveting and full of potential. Particularly since I am Chinese myself I was looking forward to a modern take of the 21st century Chinese Canadian experience (ie "no kitchen Gods", "myths and legends my grandma told", no "Third Aunt and Fourth Uncle"....) By about the fifith chapter I was wondering why this book won the Giller prize. Too many plotlines with unfulfilled emotiional development; too many matter of fact descriptions of medical emergencies. To the latter point - it would have been much more interesting to watch an episode of Trauma on TLC. The drama of some things just get lost in print. Very disappointed
Date published: 2006-12-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Fresh Read I too have only read the first 4 short stories but have so far been very impressed with Lam's writing style, the depth of understanding in his stories, and the cross over of characters and events from one short story to the next. Being the same age group as the characters and having friends in med school may add personal relevance to the stories; however, Lam is also touching on more universal experiences of loss, morality, etc. His collection is a refreshing read that I highly recommend. It is an excellent mix of short story and overarching narrative and provides fascinating and personal insight into the moral and emotional world of medicine.
Date published: 2006-11-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dissonant This review is based on the first hundred pages or so (the first four stories), since I felt that was an appropriate amount of time spent waiting to be captivated, impressed, compelled to continue reading. Sadly I was not. Reading this book has helped me to define the saying "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story". To explain: it is obvious that Lam has taken stories or anecdotes directly from what he has seen or heard in the medical field. With this I have no problem. But I can see where his desire to inform impedes on the story. To speak musically, the leitmotif of his Take All of Murphy is the scene where the characters suffer the moral dilemma of either satisfying medical procedure and cutting through the symbol (tattoo) of a man's life, or harmlessly slicing around it. An excellent idea (in fact it was someone's summary of that idea which moved me to pick up the book in the first place). Every little inflection and melody of the story should revolve around this moment. But Lam creates great discord by straying from the truth and trailing off into exposition. All of the italicised parts of this story (where we are shown snippets of past interviews and such) should have been cut. There is an overall sense of weakness in the prose. A lightness. There is no, shall I say, muscle to it. This critique serves well for the first four stories I read. Some had good ideas (for this Lam earns a star), but they were drawn out, lost somewhere in mediocre craft, poor pacing, and a missing sense for mood.
Date published: 2006-11-18

– More About This Product –

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories

by Vincent Lam

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.94 in

Published: September 26, 2006

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385661444

ISBN - 13: 9780385661447

Read from the Book

How to Get into Medical School, Part I Desperate stragglers arrived late for the molecular biology final examination, their feet wet from tramping through snowbanks and their faces damp from running. Some still wore coats, and rummaged in the pockets for pens. Entering the exam hall, a borrowed gymnasium, from the whipping chaos of the snowstorm was to be faced with a void. Eyeglasses fogged, xenon lamps burned their blue-tinged light, and the air was calm with its perpetual fragrance of old paint. The lamps buzzed, and their constant static was like a sheet pulled out from under the snowstorm, though low enough that the noise vanished quickly. Invigilators led latecomers to vacant seats among the hundreds of desks, each evenly spaced at the University of Ottawa’s minimum requisite distance. The invigilators allowed them to sit the exam but, toward the end of the allotted period, ignored their pleas for extra time on account of the storm. Ming, who had finished early, centred her closed exam booklet in front of her. Fitzgerald was still hunched over his paper. She didn’t want to wait outside for him, preferring it to be very coincidental that she would leave the room at the same time he did. Hopefully he would suggest they go for lunch together. If he did not ask, she would be forced to, perhaps using a little joke. Ming tended to stumble over humour. She could ask what he planned to do this afternoon – was that the kind of thing people said? On scrap paper,
read more read less

From the Publisher

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures welcomes readers into a world where the most mundane events can quickly become life or death. By following four young medical students and physicians – Ming, Fitz, Sri and Chen – this debut collection from 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Vincent Lam is a riveting, eye-opening account of what it means to be a doctor. Deftly navigating his way through 12 interwoven short stories, the author explores the characters’ relationships with each other, their patients, and their careers. Lam draws on his own experience as an emergency room physician and shares an insider’s perspective on the fears, frustrations, and responsibilities linked with one of society’s most highly regarded occupations.

“I wanted to write about the way in which a person changes as they become a physician — how their world view shifts, and how they become a slightly different version of themselves in the process of becoming a doctor,” Lam explains. “I wanted to write about the reality that doing good and trying to help others is not simple. It is ethically complicated and sometimes involves a reality that can only be expressed by telling a story.”

In the book’s first story, “How to Get into Medical School, Part 1,” students Ming and Fitz wrestle with their opposing personalities and study techniques, while coming to terms with a growing emotional connection that elicits disapproval from Ming’s traditional Chinese-Canadian parents. Lam’s exceptional talent for describing scenarios with great precision is showcased in “Take All of Murphy,” when Ming, Chen, and Sri find themselves at a moral crossroads while dissecting a cadaver. Throughout the book, readers are treated to the physicians’ internal thoughts and the mental drama involved with treating patients, including Fitz’s struggle with self-doubt in “Code Clock” and Chen’s boredom and exhaustion in “Before Light.”

From delivering babies to evacuating patients and dealing with deadly viruses, the four primary characters in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures are made thoroughly human by Lam’s insightful detail, realistic dialogue, and expert storytelling. The medical world is naturally filled with drama, but it’s the author’s ability to give equal weight to the smaller moments that really brings this book to life.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Vincent Lam was born in 1974 in London, Ont., into a family from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. Four years later, they moved to Ottawa where he was raised on stories told by his father and the works of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and developed aspirations to become a writer. Acknowledging that he hadn’t seen enough of the world to create great literary works, Lam enrolled in medical school at the University of Toronto, hoping it would provide real-life experience and a wealth of rich material. His plan proved to be a very good one. It was while working as a doctor aboard an Arctic cruise that Lam had a chance encounter with renowned author Margaret Atwood. She agreed to read his short stories, and later sent him an email announcing “Congratulations. You can write.” Atwood mentored the young author, and was instrumental in bringing Lam to his publisher, Doubleday Canada. While crafting his debut collection of short stories, Lam worked in the emergency room at Toronto East General Hospital and helped fight the 2003 SARS outbreak. “An emergency physician is often in the centre of a storm of tensions and drama,” he says. “We work in a world that is both medical and personal, where the stakes are high and events are unpredictable. As a doctor, I respond to the world around me, and act within that world. As a writer, I do something fresh and new on the page.” Lam’s depiction of four medical students who become doctors in
read more read less

Editorial Reviews

“[A] compelling first book of fiction. … It adds up to a running start at a high-voltage literary career.”
—Toronto Star

“Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures radiates the confidence you expect from a man whose other job is to make stalled hearts start. The advantage of fiction? Here, even the medical failures come to life, vividly.”
—The Globe and Mail

“Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures is a satisfying, engrossing read, partly because of the intrinsically fascinating subject matter, but also because of Lam’s patient characterizations and understanding of the human heart.”
—National Post

“There’s no information like inside information, and Lam puts his to good use … [his] fiction strikes a balance between clinical and emotional detail. . . . [An] impressive first book, by all appearances.”
—The Ottawa Citizen

"Vincent Lam crafts sentences that veteran writers will covet. His fresh and stunning talent will satisfy all readers who hunger for powerful stories."
–Wayson Choy, author of All That Matters


From the Hardcover edition.

Bookclub Guide

1. Consider the personalities of Ming, Chen, Sri, and Fitz. Which character did you most identify with and why?

2. In “How to Get into Medical School, Part 1,” Ming and Fitz talk about the “right reasons” to become physicians: service, humanity, and giving. What other motivations do you think they each had that weren’t vocalized at the time?

3. In “Take All of Murphy,” what is the significance of how differently Ming and Chen treated the cadaver?

4. What did you find to be the most compelling moral dilemma explored in this book?

5. When Sri is trying to diagnose his patient Winston (p.125) Dr. Miniadis tells him: “You’ve heard that the sound of hoofbeats implies the presence of horses? It is true that we must look carefully for zebras, but for the most part we expect to find horses.” Discuss whether you think this advice helped Sri deal with his patient.

6. Discuss the various scenarios in which the characters were forced to deal with death.

7. What part of the story “Contact Tracing” surprised you the most, and why?

8. Why do you think the author chose to tell some stories involving Chen (“A Long Migration,” “Before Light”) and Fitz (“Eli,” “Night Flight”) in the first person?

9. What is your final opinion of Fitz?

10. Which story did you enjoy the most and why?

11. How have these stories made you look at doctors and other health care professionals differently?

12. The book will be made into a TV series–which actors would you cast to play the four main characters?

Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart