Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Didn’t Get Frazzled by David Z Hirsch
DIDN’T GET FRAZZLED by David Z Hirsch
The debut novel from this author, who uses a pen name, Didn’t Get Frazzled is about a few years in the life of Seth, a graduate medical student in New York. The novel intersperses darkly humorous scenes during Seth’s training, with the ongoing drama of his personal life. It’s intelligently written, well put together, amusing in parts, and I thought the dialogue and the characterisation good (Seth’s girlfriend, April, is particularly so; dreary as hell, and takes herself far, far too seriously). The contrast between hospital and personal life is well balanced, each giving more weight to the other. The banter in the practical classes is believable, and it’s clear that the author knows exactly what he’s talking about, all the way through it – nothing like writing what you know!
So why only 3.5 stars? The reason that I haven’t given it the 4 that most of the book merits is that I almost abandoned it three times. I nearly decided it was a ‘no’ during the first chapter, which I assumed to be written from experiences of the author’s own. You know when someone tells you about something funny that happened to them, and it sort of trails off with them saying, “Oh well, I suppose you had to be there.”? That’s what this felt like; a bunch of ‘in’ jokes. I could see how funny it should have been but it just … wasn’t. Another time was during the description of an intimate examination of an obese woman. It wasn’t daringly warts-and-all, it was just disgusting. I actually closed my Kindle and opened my laptop to write my decline-to-review email, but then I thought, no, I’ve already spent a few hours reading this.
I found the parts about Seth’s personal life the most interesting to read, very well done, but I wonder if the in-hospital sections might contain too much medical info, etc, for your average reader; I did find myself glazing over by about half way through. And it is, at times, really quite revolting. But other bits are very good. I’m in two minds about it; I would imagine that if you’re a medical student, you will LOVE it!
A rousing, provocative novel about four years in the life of an intrepid young medical student, set in the grueling world of an elite NYC medical school.
“…the best fictional portrayal of med school since ER.” — BlueInk Review (starred review)
Medical student Seth Levine faces escalating stress and gallows humor as he struggles with the collapse of his romantic relationships and all preconceived notions of what it means to be a doctor. It doesn’t take long before he realizes not getting frazzled is the least of his problems.
Seth encounters a student so arrogant he boasts that he’ll eat any cadaver part he can’t name, an instructor so dedicated she tests the student’s ability to perform a gynecological exam on herself, and a woman so captivating that Seth will do whatever it takes to make her laugh, including regale her with a story about a diagnostic squabble over an erection.
Didn’t Get Frazzled captures with distressing accuracy the gauntlet idealistic college grads must face to secure an MD and, against the odds, come out of it a better human being.
About the author
David Z Hirsch grew up on the steppes of Nebraska peddling Kool-Aid off I-129 until saving up enough cash for medical school. After graduation, he moved to Pyongyang to teach pre-med classes at Kim Il-sung University. He soon fell out of favor and was imprisoned at Kaechon where he traded medical favors for soup and toilet paper until he made a daring escape across the border.
Dr. Hirsch subsisted for the next three years by foraging gooseberries and licking the dew off spiny toads. This led to a burst of creativity, and he wrote the first draft of Didn’t Get Frazzled on bark peeled off a dying Manchurian Ash tree. Ultimately discovered in a semi-feral state by the China Coast Guard flotilla from Liaoning, Dr. Hirsch returned to the United States sixty pounds lighter but more inspired than ever.
David Z Hirsch is a pen name, so absolutely nothing in the above paragraphs are true. This is not lying, you see. It’s fiction. Many well-regarded sources insist that these are two distinct things. The actual guy who wrote this novel is a practicing physician in Maryland. His life story is considerably more prosaic, but in his head he lives a fascinating, fascinating life.
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such a variety of books coming up for review… not quite sure what to make of this one. I suspect I may quite like it, as I love all those medical programmes on TV…
This is a really well balanced and thoughtful review, which is difficult to write when you find a book challenging in places. Good job Terry. (I do love the author bio as well though :-))
I can actually remember opening the laptop quite late at night to write my ‘decline to review’ email, because the piece is question was so unnecessarily disgusting, and I didn’t know that I wanted to read any more.
I like violent horror films, I’m not squeamish, but…. a shame, because he can certainly write.
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A helpful reminder to all of us who wite: Sometimes, more is less than we hope it will be…
Great review! I avoid anything medical (can’t even stomach watching Grey’s Anatomy anymore!) and the simple thought of a medical student makes me run away, but I like your analysis of the book, and I get the “in” jokes, that’s too bad the author couldn’t find a way to make those stories work for the average reader.
Yes, it did scream of ‘debut novel’ a bit, Donna – like he’d been sitting round a dinner table relating anecdotes of his med school days, and someone said ‘you ought to write a book about this’. If he writes another one, I expect it will be much better. Because he can certainly write.
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Thanks, Terry. I am a doctor so I didn’t have any problem with those parts although wondered how people without medical training or knowledge would find it. There’s quite a large number of people who love medical books (I did even before I studied Medicine) so one never knows. For me, it brought memories of my years as a student, although the system in Spain was quite different. You’re right. It’s not a book for everybody.
ah, well, you have your answer, Olga! However, as you say, there are probably enough people with medical know-how in the world to read it, without dumbing it down for your average reader.