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Book review
Direct red: a surgeon’s story
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    By Gabriel Weston. Published by Jonathan Cape 2009 9780224084390.

    Written by a bona fide surgeon with a background in English literature, Direct red is, on the face of it, simply a collection of anecdotes about the author’s experiences during her training. Each chapter illustrates a theme—such as “Death”, “Sex”, “Ambition” and “Children”, and encapsulates a selection of vignettes. For anyone who has gone through medical training there is nothing surprising about these stories: the “my first night in casualty” genre of anecdotes will be familiar to all doctors and anyone who’s sat next to one at a dinner party. Some of them are gruesome, and very often they are painfully sad. While the subject matter may be familiar, it is rare to find fictionalised accounts of these events that have been written so well, and treated so sensitively and with respect.

    Weston has a definite voice. In the chapter on “Beauty”, she describes “the way the anaesthetic doors would open to deliver a bedded, tubed patient at the same time as the scrub nurse appeared with her trolley, like a hostess bringing out a science-fiction tea”. The familiar stories slip out effortlessly, so that each chapter reads like a well-rounded …

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    • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.