Two writers, two books that take you behind the scenes at the hospital in very different ways. One a memoir, one fiction, both filled with stories, large and small, that bring these corridors to life and give a window into their complexity. Elizabeth Scarboro and Louise Aronson will talk about their vantage points as doctor/patient-writers, and how their work fits into the larger conversation of health care reform.
Louise Aronson, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the UCSF Medical Humanities Division, describes the process of becoming a doctor as being a bit like joining a cult: you are deprived of sleep, food, and countless other everyday activities while learning what amounts to an entire new language and how to act rather than react in the face of a continuous onslaught of disease and suffering. At the end of that grueling process, she felt as if her imagination and creativity had atrophied, as muscles do when not exercised, and also that she was overflowing with stories of the people she had cared for and worked alongside. In A HISTORY OF THE PRESENT ILLNESS's elegant stories, Aronson offers a deeply humane and incisive portrait of health and illness in America today. An elderly Chinese immigrant sacrifices his demented wife’s well-being to his son’s authority. A busy Latina physician’s eldest daughter's need for more attention has disastrous consequences. A young veteran’s injuries become a metaphor for the rest of his life. A gay doctor learns very different lessons about family from his life and his work, and a psychiatrist who advocates for the underserved may herself be crazy. Together, these honest and compassionate stories introduce a striking new literary voice and provide a view of what it means to be a doctor and a patient unlike anything we’ve read before.
Louise Aronson has an M.F.A. in fiction from the Warren Wilson College Program for Writers and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. She has won the Sonora Review prize and a New Millennium Writings award for short-short fiction, and has received three Pushcart nominations. Her fiction has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Northwest Review, Sonora Review, Seattle Review, Fourteen Hills, and the Literary Review, among other publications. She is an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where she cares for older patients and directs the Northern California Geriatrics Education Center and UCSF Medical Humanities.
In MY FOREIGN CITIES, now in paperback, Liz Scarboro delves into the repercussions of marrying a man with a degenerative illness and poor prospects of surviving past his 30s, asking, what would any of us do for love?
Scarboro's teenage years were marked by fierce independence and wanderlust. Settling down and being married were low, if nonexistent, priorities. Yet she soon felt for a kindred spirit, whose cystic fibrosis -- and short life expectancy -- gave their fledgling affair a different kind of recklessness. Exchanging globetrotting for trips to and from doctors' offices, they wed with the intention of testing CF's limits. Advance in treatment have helped prolong the lives of suffers and created a host of new opportunities -- college, career, family -- that inspired tremendous hope and large dose of fearlessness in the new couple.
And it was fearlessly that the two engaged life together, immersing themselves in the outdoors, pushing their intellectual boundaries, and developing new friendships. In unflinching prose, Scarboro scrutinizes their devoted but flawed relationship, and the brutal truth of caring for a painkiller-addicted transplant recipient, while finding joy and laughter in the face of such horrible odds.
Elizabeth Scarboro is the author of two children's novels and a winner of the Giga and Paul Menn /Foundation Prize for fiction. She lives in Berkeley with her husband and two children.
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Celebrate Earth Day with Doug Fine and The Booksmith!
Bestselling comedic investigative journalist Doug Fine delivers a wildly entertaining and journalistically rigorous, from-the-fields, slide-accompanied storytelling show that will leave you who are new to the topic at once laughing and informed -- in this case about the billion-dollar worldwide hemp industry that’s about to emerge.
Hemp, Doug discovered in two years of research from Hawaii to Belgium, can replace at once plastics and fossil fuels, while putting small farmers worldwide back in business on a profitable and soil-enhancing bridge crop. Also its seed oil is a nutritive superfood. Doug even saw an entire tractor body made from hemp -- intended to harvest the very same crop. Already hemp's stronger-than-steel fibers are in BMW and Mercedes door panels.
The stat sheet on hemp sounds almost too good to be true: its fibers are among the planet’s strongest, its seed oil the most nutritious, and its potential as an energy source vast and untapped. Its one downside? For nearly a century, it’s been illegal to grow industrial cannabis in the United States -- even though Betsy Ross wove the nation’s first flag out of hemp fabric, Thomas Jefferson composed the Declaration of Independence on it, and colonists could pay their taxes with it. But as the prohibition on hemp’s psychoactive cousin winds down, one of humanity’s longest-utilized plants is about to be reincorporated into the American economy. Get ready for the newest billion-dollar industry.
In Hemp Bound Doug Fine embarks on a humorous yet rigorous journey to meet the men and women who are testing, researching, and pioneering hemp’s applications for the twenty-first century. From Denver, where Fine hitches a ride in a hemp-powered limo; to Asheville, North Carolina, where carbon-negative hempcrete-insulated houses are sparking a mini housing boom; to Manitoba where he raps his knuckles on the hood of a hemp tractor; and finally to the fields of east Colorado, where practical farmers are looking toward hemp to restore their agricultural economy -- Fine learns how eminently possible it is for this misunderstood plant to help us end dependence on fossil fuels, heal farm soils damaged after a century of growing monocultures, and bring even more taxable revenue into the economy than its smokable relative.
Fine’s journey will not only leave you wondering why we ever stopped cultivating this miracle crop, it will fire you up to sow a field of it for yourself, for the nation’s economy, and for the planet.
Doug Fine is a comedic investigative journalist, bestselling author, and solar-powered goat herder. He has reported from five continents for The Washington Post, Wired, Salon, The New York Times, Outside, National Public Radio, and U.S. News & World Report. His work from Burma was read into the Congressional Record (by none other than pro-hemp Senator Mitch McConnell), and he won more than a dozen Alaska Press Club awards for his radio reporting from the Last Frontier.
Fine is the author of three previous books: Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution; Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living; and Not Really an Alaskan Mountain Man.
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