Richard Selzer traded in his scalpel for a pen over fifteen years ago, but the precision and exacting intellect of his medical background carried over into his prose, giving us stories and essays devoid of sentimentality, marked by careful attention to detail, and suffused with awe for the mysteries of the human body.
Selzer turns those talents to the book’s title essay, a retelling of the novella by little-known German writer, Paul Alverdes. In it, three men inhabit the Whistlers’ Room where soldier-patients recuperate from wounds to the throat. Shading meaning between the injured men and the doctors, Selzer leads us to a compassionate understanding of the sick and the people who heal them.
The twenty-four pieces of this collection make a strong case for Selzer’s inclusion among the company of such esteemed physician-turned-writers as Chekhov, William Carlos Williams, and Oliver Sachs.