by Sukey HowardJune 2012
Inside Chelsea General
All doctors have human frailties, all doctors make medical errors and for the neurosurgical team at Chelsea General the 6 a.m. Monday morning meetings of the Morbidity and Mortality conference are where mistakes are admitted and dissected. And it’s these meetings that punctuate Monday Mornings, the debut novel by CNN’s chief medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta. This is his turf, these are the men and women he knows and these are the medical and emotional challenges real doctors encounter. That being said, Monday Mornings is a juicy medical soap opera about five brain surgeons that unfolds in a mosaic of episodes. It’s like having “ER” back on TV—you’re plunged into life-and-death emergencies, into the dramas of the surgeons’ personal lives, into their trials and triumphs. If some of the characters are a tad stereotypical—a driven Korean surgeon whose own brain tumor brings back his humanity, an ex-football pro whose bulk and bravado belie his skill in running the ER—it doesn’t detract at all. Narrator Christian Rummel gives them all full voice and verve.
MUSING ON MUSES
Vincent van Gogh didn’t commit suicide, he was shot by a nasty, twisted creature known only as “The Colorman,” who’s been preying on great artists for centuries, perhaps even longer. And that’s just for openers in Sacré Bleu, Christopher Moore’s latest romp set in fin de siècle Paris, when the Impressionists held sway and Le Moulin de la Galette thrived. Writing with his special brand of ribald wit, Moore becomes a master mixologist as he combines historical and fictional characters—including a beautiful, timeless, shape-shifting spirit called Bleu—and well-researched art history with frolicking fantasy and a somewhat serious consideration of artistic genius with the indefinable, ineffable influence of a muse. It’s great fun, and you get the feeling that the author enjoyed writing this clever caper as much you’ll enjoy hearing Euan Morton’s charming narration.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO
Nobody does it better. Nobody can conjure up the labyrinthine intrigue that shrouded the court of Henry VIII, the turmoil his marriage to Anne Boleyn fomented and the moral maelstrom surrounding her ruin as well as Hilary Mantel. And no one else could have reimagined the brilliant, accomplished, compelling Thomas Cromwell, who rose from scruffy, street-smart blacksmith’s boy to become Secretary to the King and the second most powerful man in England, as she has done in Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to her dazzling Wolf Hall. We all know the story, but hearing it described through Cromwell’s eloquent words and inner thoughts on power and ambition, his own included, make it new again, and riveting. Mantel’s language is extraordinary—it’s as though she’s channeled Cromwell from the beyond and burrowed into his mind—and Simon Vance’s impeccable reading is a perfect match. A wonderful way to celebrate Audio Month.