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30 Reviews
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight to the Heart
As an Obstetric Resident, Bloodletting was like speaking to someone who truly felt the intensity of the day- to-day life of a physician. I couldn't put it down, and read the whole thing front to back sitting lopsided in an uncomfortable chair. His story "an insistent tide" stuck a particular cord with me, he did an excellent job of capturing the acuity of a cord prolapse...
Published on Jan. 7 2008 by Anne Berndl

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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit average
This collection of short stories has some interesting moments, but the book is highly uneven, with some weak work towards the center that gets a bit better towards the end. This collection is not for readers who seek a memorable literary experience. The work is more akin to a reality TV show, and relies heavily on the drama that medicine affords gratis instead of literary...
Published on Nov. 14 2006 by Richard Upjohn


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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight to the Heart, Jan. 7 2008
By 
Anne Berndl - See all my reviews
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As an Obstetric Resident, Bloodletting was like speaking to someone who truly felt the intensity of the day- to-day life of a physician. I couldn't put it down, and read the whole thing front to back sitting lopsided in an uncomfortable chair. His story "an insistent tide" stuck a particular cord with me, he did an excellent job of capturing the acuity of a cord prolapse and the emotions that accompany the shift from a normal healthy birth to an emergency situation. My heart was pounding. Well done!
-Dr. Anne Berndl, Author; "So You Want to Be a Doctor, Eh?"
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit average, Nov. 14 2006
This collection of short stories has some interesting moments, but the book is highly uneven, with some weak work towards the center that gets a bit better towards the end. This collection is not for readers who seek a memorable literary experience. The work is more akin to a reality TV show, and relies heavily on the drama that medicine affords gratis instead of literary virtuosity or masterful story telling.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, Feb. 13 2014
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Great characters with surprising lives. I love how all of the stories contain at least one of or favourite doctors, and that the point of view changes frequently from first to third. Interesting and vivid stories.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average tale of the medical world, Jan. 11 2007
By 
B. NH (Ottawa, Canada) - See all my reviews
As a medical student myself, I did not find this collection of short stories to be that powerful, captivating nor truly interesting. It was a quick read, but the characters weren't memorable. The stories are life-like, but seeing as I live this everyday, didn't find the stories too entertaining.

For medical stories, I preferred Complications by Atul Gawande. Despite Complications' documentary style, it was informative, funny and enlightening.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissonant, Nov. 18 2006
By 
G. Thomas (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is based on the first hundred pages or so (the first four stories), since I felt that was an appropriate amount of time spent waiting to be captivated, impressed, compelled to continue reading. Sadly I was not.

Reading this book has helped me to define the saying "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story". To explain: it is obvious that Lam has taken stories or anecdotes directly from what he has seen or heard in the medical field. With this I have no problem. But I can see where his desire to inform impedes on the story. To speak musically, the leitmotif of his Take All of Murphy is the scene where the characters suffer the moral dilemma of either satisfying medical procedure and cutting through the symbol (tattoo) of a man's life, or harmlessly slicing around it. An excellent idea (in fact it was someone's summary of that idea which moved me to pick up the book in the first place). Every little inflection and melody of the story should revolve around this moment. But Lam creates great discord by straying from the truth and trailing off into exposition. All of the italicised parts of this story (where we are shown snippets of past interviews and such) should have been cut. There is an overall sense of weakness in the prose. A lightness. There is no, shall I say, muscle to it.

This critique serves well for the first four stories I read. Some had good ideas (for this Lam earns a star), but they were drawn out, lost somewhere in mediocre craft, poor pacing, and a missing sense for mood.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clinically engaging., June 15 2007
The author's style is stilted and clinical. The characters leave you with a faint taste of metal in your mouth or a squint as if you are looking at them from a distance. Somehow it all works. One shouldn't expect a book about a clinically detached scientific profession to read the same as One L for example. Different profession, different feel. If it were more empathetically written I'm not sure it would ring as true. If you are looking for the literary equivalent of a fast paced episode of ER or a soapy drama like Grey's Anatomy I suggest that you will want to look elsewhere though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Realities of Modern Medicine, May 31 2011
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
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For those who don't like the short-story format, this is not the book for you. While there is no big deciding moment that unifies all these unique personal experiences of young doctors in the field, Lam manages to convey a very real sense of humanity in his characters as they struggle to understand the demands of their very challenging profession. These are professionals who are forced to make decisions that are not always convenient or textbook in nature, while trying to meet the needs of their patients. I found this collection of literary vignettes on life in a modern hospital to be a fascinating read because they tell it as it is: not glamorous, downright disgusting, very stressful, and not always successful or popular. The benefit of having these tales presented in a short-story format is that the reader has a chance to select ones he or she can relate to: the first two dealing with life in medical school were especially appealing to me because I have always wondered what some of my friends have had to go through in order to become doctors, especially with so many personal issues crowding their lives. The story of how a young ER doctor deals with the emerging needs of a mentally disturbed patient is both humorous and enlightening. Overall, "Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures" appears to be an honest treatment of a very complex subject that can't be covered in some superficial novel-style like a Robin Cook medical thriller, because it is anything but. Being a medical doctor in Canada means being open to a maelstrom of unpredictable and quite often ordianaryy circumstances. Lam has the talent to present the mundane in such a way as to strike the reader as being crucial to the bigger picture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bloodletting and Miraculous Cure, Feb. 20 2011
By 
C. Lau (Canada) - See all my reviews
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I found the book thought provoking and emotional.
Great exterior. A few pages in bad condition, but considering the price- it was a steal!
Good delivery time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, June 7 2009
By 
MD (Toronto, ON) - See all my reviews
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a nice way to gain insights into the lives of doctors and med school students in Canada. A very easy read! You don't have to be a doctor to find it interesting or to understand the subject mater.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Strangely underwhelming, Jan. 16 2007
By 
T. Kharitonova (Calgary, AB) - See all my reviews
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I have read way more powerful and meaningful short stories in my life, and these, while somewhat intersting, at times meander and ultimately lose their point.

It's a rare gift to develop a character in such a way that the reader cares what happens to him/her in a short period of time, and sadly if most of these people died a horrible death I doubt anyone would bat an eyelash.

The stories are not particularly eye-opening, insightful, poignant or any other adjective that works for great writing. It's just a meandering stream of consciousness about people whose lives you don't care about. The fact that it won an award means little as most award winning books I've read were not that great. Same goes for a lot of classics.
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Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam (Hardcover - Jan. 17 2006)
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