Monday, December 04, 2006

For the Bookworm on Your List

by Metro Mama

Dr. Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, winner of the 2006 Giller Prize, is the perfect stocking-stuffer. The connected short stories follow the intersecting lives of four doctors, from pre-med to their careers as physicians. The stories are narrated from various perspectives, including the doctors as well as the supporting characters: a psychiatric patient becoming increasingly paranoid; a women undergoing an emergency c-section; a nurse during the SARS crisis.

Unaffected and honest, the collection is an arresting glimpse into the world of medicine. The stories are unflinching—Lam doesn’t shrink away from the dark side of the medical profession. His characters are fallible, human, and real.

32-year old Lam is a Toronto emergency room physician. He was a ship doctor on an Arctic cruise where he met Margaret Atwood who became his mentor. Atwood introduced the book at the Giller ceremony and told the audience, "doctors and fiction-writers both deal in extreme events, both have their fingers on the pulse of life and death, and neither is squeamish about gore on the floor." Squeamish, Lam is not.

The $40,000 Giller prize is Canada’s most prestigious literary award. Last year's winner was Winnipeg novelist David Bergen for The Time in Between, the story of a haunted man who returns to Vietnam where he fought in the war 28 years earlier (read my review here). Alice Munro, who sat on this year’s jury, won the award in 2004 for Runaway.

Vincent Lam is married and the father of a two-year old son. He lives in Toronto and is working on his first novel, due out in 2007.

He’s inspired me—if a doctor and father of a toddler can find the time to write a book, maybe I can too.

Don’t you love a success story!


Julie has a baby girl and is currently working in the home. She keeps busy finishing her undergrad (English), caring for her family, reading lots of books, writing, and trying to figure out what the heck to do next.

Contact Julie at


sunshine scribe said...

I cannot wait to read this one. And you are right ... such an inspiration. If he can be a parent AND a doctor AND write an award winning book, then what's stopping us.

Great column Julie ... as usual :)

crazymumma said...

It sounds like a great read and he truly is an inspiration. But so are you, school, family, blogging seem to juggle a tone of stuff with great aplomb.

Behind every great man or woman is an equally if not greater partner.....

something blue said...

What a great suggestion for gift giving! I've been buying books for everyone.

Mother Bumper said...

Great review Julie - I can think of at least one person on my gift list that would like this one.

penelopeto said...

I'm reading this right now! (well, right now I'm at work and should be working, but it's my current read) I will second the recommendation fer shure.

Haley-O said...

Wow. Great review, Metro. You're great at this. I would definitely read a book by you if you wrote one :).

I don't know if I could stomach Lam's book, though. I can barely stomach Grey's Anatomy. But, it sounds fascinating.

Ali said... can totally write a book?

(and i know a great, great editor...hint, hint!)

Lisa b said...

I thought he was only an emergency room physician and managed to write a book.
Kids too?
He deserves the prize.
great review.

Bri said...

I just bought the book today at Costco ($10.49 for anyone interested!) for my trip, sounds like it will be a good read! Thanks!

Mamalooper said...

Just bought it too - I think it will go on TOP of my to-be-read pile. Sounds great.