The Elephant Man in the Room
It would appear that many people love ‘clinical writing’, a distinct genre that embraces doctors, diseases and patients. As a medic I tend to avoid this territory. Stories about medical practice lean either to the sententious (e.g. A. J. Cronin’s The Citadel) or the facetious (Richard Gordon’s Doctor in the House), while the current big sellers favour medical heroics in war zones or harrowing tales from that other front-line of combat, the NHS. Also, I don’t much care for the doctors who appear in novels. Who would employ Dr Tertius Lydgate, the idealistic young physician in Middlemarch, whose professional ambitions are so easily thwarted by the pretty, but shallow, Rosamund Vincy? And what about Dr Zhivago? Poet, lover and counter-revolutionary but, let’s face it, not much of a physician.