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The Tennis Partner: A Doctor's Story of Friendship and Loss
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The Tennis Partner: A Doctor's Story of Friendship and Loss

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  2,970 ratings  ·  450 reviews
In My Own Country, named one of the five best books of 1994 by Time magazine, Abraham Verghese ventured into the valley of the Smokey Mountains, where he bore witness to the arrival of AIDS in a town that had never expected the disease or its terrible consequences. The New York Times Book Review called the book "an account of the plague years in America, beautifully writte ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 18th 1998 by Harper (first published 1998)
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Megowen
Jul 09, 2011 Megowen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Megowen by: Read and enjoyed 2 other books by this author
I have just completed a Verghese marathon. Why do I enjoy his books? As I have said before: his language is elegant, his storytelling is gifted and magical. His novel has enough descriptive setting in it that it seems to be a true memoir. His characters live, the country is in shambles. Haile Selassie lives again. The non-fiction feeling is enhanced by the inclusion of accurate maps, that actually help the reader follow the movements of the characters.
His non-fiction - I don't know where to begi
...more
Jack
A deeply disturbing, often fascinating memoir, one that reads more like a novel. The author befriends an intern in a busy El Paso hospital; the two become tennis buddies and friends. Each has their individual agonies. Verghese is separated from his wife, and trying to reconcile his new life with his devotion to his two sons. But the central story is that of Verghese's friendship with David Smith, a former pro tennis player turned doctor, who is trying heroically to overcome an addiction problem ...more
Eric Klee
When I picked up and read the summary of THE TENNIS PARTNER, it intrigued me. What I didn't realize at that time was that it was a work of nonfiction. Only when the main character in the book mentioned his full name -- which happened to be the same as the author -- did I realize that it was an autobiographical memoir. I typically prefer reading fiction books to nonfiction, but I continued with it nonetheless.

The story is about an Indian doctor (Dr. Abraham Verghese) whose sole focus has been on
...more
Julie
I had a hard time rating this book. For readability of prose, it was a "five." I loved his writing style and storytelling ability. But I think my position as a recovering alcoholic may have colored my view of the substance of how he treated his friendship with David as well as David's relapse. I was struck by what I felt to be the author's viewpoint -- that David's relapse was somehow all about him (the author.) What he lost, what he missed, what he was disappointed about. And his willingness, m ...more
Gabby
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Gary Ganong
Jul 27, 2011 Gary Ganong rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeffrey Ganong, Mike Blackledge, Tom Basehart
This is a profound book about friendship and the human soul. Verghese is a perceptive physician who has studied the human body and mind and is able to share his insights in beautiful prose. He has made many keen observations of the motivations and behavior of physicians and perhaps all professionals. "A child will always feel insufficient and powerless in a world of adults" is an example.

Adults find themselves on dark paths. They can come out by reaching to human connections.

"Keep the ball in p
...more
Anjana
I thought I was sick of navel-gazing confessionals from self-absorbed physicians who think that the entire world is dying to know about the ins and outs of medical life. But a former anatomy tutor of mine with a penchant for latin and greek put it in my mailbox. how could i not read it?
What I learned from this book? I learned that it is incredibly, frighteningly easy to pick up a drug habit in the medical profession. I can only hope I find a really entertaining one, like...quaaludes or somethin
...more
Lisa
When I saw that Abraham Verghese had written a book that had "tennis" in the title, I knew that I had to read it. I am a "club" player myself, and I enjoy reading about someone who loves the game. The book, however, really isn't about tennis, it's about the relationship that is borne from regular tennis games between the author and David Smith. The friendship that develops between Abraham and David is told with a striking vulnerability in the context of the intensity of the daily routine in a te ...more
bookczuk
Someone recommended this book to me, saying it was about Verghese and an "idiot savant" who hung around the tennis courts where Verghese played, and was a fascinating account of the relationship between the two men. She predicted I would like it because I played tennis. Were we playing a match, the score at that point would have been 2:1, my favor. She had the basic story all wrong, though the relationship was fascinating. And I don't play tennis, just am the mother of tennis players. Despite th ...more
Mike
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Lucy Montgomery
My Mom bought me this book because we both loved Cutting for Stone and I am a tennis player, but The Tennis partner is so much more than the title suggests. It is an amazing book, powerful on many levels, none of which are light-hearted. Tennis does provide the backdrop and many metaphors in the story, but the book is not really about tennis (nor would the reader have to be a tennis player to appreciate it). The book is also about doctors and the practice of medicine, as well as addiction and th ...more
Sherry Howland
This is a warm but heartbreaking, even at times harrowing, exploration of friendship. Dr Verghese has opened his life and soul to his readers in order to tell the story of his complicated friendship with David, a deeply troubled intern assigned to Verghese's internal medicine dept in an El Paso, TX hospital. Although Verghese is ostensibly the mentor and superior of the two, the balance switches as David, a former pro-circuit tennis player, becomes the teacher when they discover a shared passion ...more
Sandy Wood
Verghese is a really talented writer. His use of language is excellent as is his ability to describe what people are truly thinking on a deeper level. Tale is non-fiction and autobiographical. It is about his relationship with a younger doctor through their shared communion of tennis. It is terribly sad as David Smith, The Tennis Partner, has an addiction to drugs that cast a shadow over his whole being.


Verghese goes into so much detail about medical conditions and treatments just like he did i
...more
Sarah Witter
This novel is for tennis players and those who have never picked up a racket. I found this novel engrossing. The author describes an interesting relationship between doctor and medical student/ a newly divorced man and a former tennis pro struggling to accept himself. Though there could have been more depth of character, the author chose to leave some details for the imagination of the reader. Tennis has little to do with the story and it has everything to do with the story.
Stacie Nishimoto
Eloquent and intimate. A memoir that meticulously examines characters and a friend's struggle with cocaine addiction, openly reflecting on flaws in understanding and personality with kindness and a strong sense of affinity for all. At times it felt as if I were reading my own thoughts on tennis, medicine, resilience and grace despite drastically different personal experiences. Quite eery but somehow comforting--that someone so successfully established in his career has traversed a mental landsca ...more
Donna
I really like Verghese's writing, and consider the subject of his book both interesting and worthwhile. As someone who is neither a tennis player nor a spectator, I found the lengthy tennis references somewhat distracting. While others seemed to admire the way the author used the tennis sessions to parallel and enhance other aspects of the story, I couldn't fully share their appreciation of those parts. I can't deny that these sections are absolutely essential to the book, but feel they might ha ...more
Kelsey
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Tim
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Nancy
Nov 09, 2013 Nancy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Kathy Loden
This painful, but stunning, memoir is special in a few ways. There aren't many memoirs that write about adult male friendships in such detail. Dr. Verghese--an internist going through a divorce--and his Australian medical student, David Smith, maintain their friendship through their weekly tennis exchanges. Verghese learns that Smith, a former professional player, has a major drug problem that's compounded by the fact that Smith is now in medical school. Verghese, inspired by Smith's friendship ...more
Judy
I love Verghese’s writing. Writers should write what they know, and this he does lyrically and completely. Chapter 18, in which he describes how he assesses his patient’s pulse, was fascinating. He describes his technique, his analysis of the quality of the pulse, in a way that illustrates the true art of medicine. He tells the story of the relationship he built with David Smith, med student and former pro tennis player, with the same quality of careful thought and compassion for his subject. Ye ...more
Stacy
The Tennis Partner was a very interesting read. The true story of Araham Verghese, the author of Cutting for Stone and his time in El Paso. In the late 90's he has moved there, his marriage is falling apart and he's started a new job at the hospital. He is also quite devoted to the game of tennis. The story focuses on his life developing friendship with an intern who is a recovering drug addict as they bond over their love of tennis and play many matches together. It does a nice job of balancing ...more
Al
Verghese writes a beautiful and rich story of friendship and hardship. He describes flawed characters that you don't necessarily love, yet you find yourself sucked into their lives and unable to escape until the tragic end. I admire anyone who can write an unflattering (or not-that-flattering) autobiography/memoir, as that takes a level of skill and honesty that can't be found just anywhere. Verghese shows how passions can follow you throughout life and shape your experiences, and he offers insi ...more
Brian
In this book, Dr. Verghese retells the story of his experience with a young medical school student struggling with an addiction to heroin. Throughout the book, Dr. Verghese describes the development of a friendship with this young pupil. As Dr. Verghese struggles to understand his addiction and to help him fight it, the reader gets a sense of the true nature of addiction from the viewpoint of a friend. One of the most important things I learned from this book is that while a person can try to he ...more
R. Gladstone
Intelligent, horrid retelling of the sequence of a train wreck of addiction. I read this because Abraham Verghese spoke at a medical meeting and signed this book for me- I'd already read Cutting for Stone and wanted to support our local independent bookseller.

Having shared some of the stresses of my husband's medical training, reading about the disintegration of his marriage hurt. When I read, I sometimes wonder if I would like to talk to the author. Odd to meet one first, then read his book. I
...more
Kathy
Verghese is a tremendously gifted writer and observer of the human conditions. I love how he does not paint himself to be a "hero", but shares his flaws and weaknesses with us as he befriends a young doctor who has some serious issues. Dealing with not only marriage, relationships, the toll a medical career can take, the helplessness of watching someone with addiction...and of course, tennis. I am not a tennis player, I don't watch it on tv, and even though tennis is a big part of the story, it ...more
Gerrigray
Verghese is a writer of grace and compassion. This novel is the story of the physician author's move to El Paso Texas to put his life back together after the disintegration of his marriage. He befriends a medical student who is recovering from drug addiction. Playing tennis regularly becomes their security and develops into a supportive friendship they both need. (see "My Own Country: A Doctor's Story" about Dr. Verghese's time in Johnson City, TN as HIV begins to show up in the hinterland away ...more
warren Cassell
Just finished the third of the Verghese oeuvre and this one was 1. devastating at the end 2. Not as good as the other two books and 3.I'm still glad I read it. As a former amateur tennis player, I enjoyed the tennis related material. However, there was nowhere enough of this and it appears that Verghese used tennis as a framework to describe his relations with his tennis partner, with his wife and kids, with his patients and himself. Eventually, I got impatient with it but stayed till the downer ...more
Wendy Leonard
Wow!Powerful and heartbreaking. This true story is especially tragic as there are so many similar stories in our society today. The backdrop is tennis and medicine but more importantly about friendship, addiction,love and betrayal. Vergese leads you through this book with great sensitivity and compassion and deals with human vulnerabilities and helplessness. I greatly appreciate his insights and perspective. My personal history was centered around tennis and medicine so enjoyed those segments bu ...more
Lisa Creane
While Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction was a father's perspective on his son's addiction, this is from the viewpoint of a friend, and has a different kind of ending. In The Tennis Partner, friendship steps in when family ties break during a long, horrible stretch. And while David Sheff is a journalist, Abraham Verghese is a novelist so the language in this story is less straightforward, images and memories streamed through a lyrical filter.

The main difference betwe
...more
Chris Bernard
LOTS OF INSIGHT INTO THE MAN, HIS LIFE, HIS PASSION WITH TENNIS...BUT EXPECTATIONS HAD LED TO ME MORE ENTRANCING DRAMA AND PATHOS AFTER "Cutting for Stone." A fine memoir, though.

After a time, I am revising my review, because I keep thinking about Verghese's haunting experience with his self-sabotaging, troubled friend and colleague, David - whose demise leaves the author and readers alike deeply affected.
One thing, though.... It helps if you love tennis and/or medicine!
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Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, is Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Born of Indian parents who were teachers in Ethiopia, he grew up near Addis Ababa and began his medical training there. When Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed, he completed his training at Madras Medical Co
...more
More about Abraham Verghese...
Cutting for Stone My Own Country: A Doctor's Story Soundings: Doctors Life Age Aids Short Stories The Maramon Convention

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