Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab

~ Tell us the title:  Body of Work

~ Who penned this work?: Christine Montross

~ How did this piece find it's way to your nightstand?: It called out to me from the shelf at Book Warehouse.  For only $4.99, I couldn't NOT get it...

~ Number of pages: 292

~ Time passed from start to finish?: I'd say about 3 days

~ Describe the cover: A strange vaguely tinted shade of greenish blue and a faint image of a cadaver covered in gauze.

~ In what section of the bookstore would a reader find this?: Biography/memoir, maybe medical or health

~ Summary of the basic plot: A woman who went to medical school reflects on her experience with human cadaver dissection and what she learned from the process.

~ Background information on the story/author: From the inside: Dr. Christina Montross is a resident in psychiatry at Brown University.  She received her master's of fine arts in poetry from the University of Michigan and has had several poems published in literary journals.  While compiling this book, she traveled to anatomical theaters, sought out holy relics, and dissected three arms, a leg, and an entire human body.  She lives in Rhode Island with her partner, Deborah, and their one-year-old daughter, Maude. 

~ What did you think of it? (your general response, what you liked or didn't like, what you learned, anything else you want to share about it): I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I found it really interesting that she had a fine art degree and then went on to medical school -- I think it gave both her experiences in medical school and the stories she shared about them a unique perspective for the reader.  This wasn't a woman who was all about science her whole life, she was about as sensitive as they get (a poet, I mean, come on) and yet she survived dissecting a human being. 

~ Which page was your favorite? Share why: Page 121.  The author shares how strange it is that even a few weeks into medical school, people automatically assume she can answer every question about every ailment they have, friends and family members included.  How so quickly, with just putting on a lab coat, people completely expose themselves physically and emotionally to these 'doctors', not realizing that they know little more than their patients at that point.

~ If the story was made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters? No. Idea.
~ Share a quote that was worth reading twice. Explain why: "Dissection, we discover, is in part a process of beginning to name parts of our own bodies whose names we have never known.  We find a structure beneath our skin, a place we have toweled dry perhaps ten thousand times and never noticed, and then we uncover it in our cadaver, feel the shape of it, learn its purpose."  I just found this interesting (as something I can relate to, having done dissections), but also rather poetically put.  There were a lot of quotes like that in the book. 

~ Choose your rating:
          - Changed. My. Life.
          - I laughed, I cried, I want you to read it
          - A definite page-turner
          - Good to check out but don't spend the cash.
          - Why did I waste my weekend on this?
          - A disgrace to paper everywhere

~ Flip to page 2, 22, or 202. Share the 7th sentence on the page."Two types of forceps are available, one with thin, blunt ends and one with a 'rat tooth' -- a metal V on one end that fits into a corresponding notch on the other -- to grasp and pick away extraneous matter."

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