A Good Doctor’s Son

Schwartz, Steven. A Good Doctor’s Son. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1998.

First and foremost, I could not put this down. I came to care about David Nachman. Even worse, I really worried about him. I think I read this book in one week’s time. Told from the retrospective first person, David Nachman, at nine years old in 1960s Pennsylvania, wanted to become a doctor like his father. Stoic and gentle, Dr Nachman did not discriminate patient care at a time when crosses were burning on some front lawns and the whites were moving out to the suburbs. You get the point – he was a good doctor and a good man. David wanted to be just like him. However life had other plans for young David by the time he reached his teens. Desperate to fit in, David joined a group of fellow teenagers for nights of gambling and crude sex jokes. Inwardly shy, it really wasn’t his thing but he wanted to belong somewhere so he played along. One terrible mistake changed his course of history forever. At a time full of protest and war, David has his own inner conflict to contend with. Now in his forties, David recounts his coming of age years in a slow and careful cadence. While his remembrances are gentle, it is impossible to ignore the growing undercurrent of guilt.

Line that lingered, “Either way…we wouldn’t talk about what was right in front of us” (p 13). How many families live like that, ignoring what is blatantly obvious and impossible to ignore?

Reason read: Pennsylvania became a state on December 12th, 1787.

Author fact: Schwartz wrote another book called Therapy but sadly it isn’t on my list. Another sad fact, another reviewer reviewed Schwartz (said he was an ass) in addition to giving his/her opinion of the book. It’s always cool when author AND book are great, but that doesn’t always happen.

Book trivia: Is this a movie? Because this should be a movie. I don’t know who would play David, but I see Richard Dreyfus as dad.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Big Ten Country: the Literary Midwest: Pennsylvania” (p 140).

Appointment in Samarra

appointment in samarraO’Hara John. Appointment in Samarra. New York: Vintage, 2003.

In honor of Pennsylvania becoming a state in the month of December Appointment in Samarra was my first novel pick. I was excited to see the introduction was written by John Updike. He is another author I have enjoyed over the years. Set in the 1930’s with a keen eye on society, O’Hara tells the story of Caroline & Julian English and their how their elite status is washed away with alcohol and attitude. In an instance the English couple go from being the toast of the town to the talk of trash.

“I love you more than a tongue can tell” (p 63).
“…their position in Gibbsville was just that certain and insecure…” (p 83).
“…she was too conscious of looking like the wrath of God to enjoy any of it” (p 121).
“The worst of that drive was that the sun glare on the snow made you smile before you were ready” (p 200).

As an aside: I don’t remember where I was when I learned that the Lenape Indians believed the turtle was the center of the universe. To this day, it remains the only thing I know about this particular tribe. It was interesting to see O’Hara mention the tribe in his historical ancestry of the English family.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter “Big Ten Country: The Literary Midwest (Pennsylvania)” (p 30).