Helen's Reviews > The House of God

The House of God by Samuel Shem
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's review
May 17, 12

really liked it
Read in May, 2012

This novel is very dark and painfully hilarious.

The novel describes the experiences of a group of interns during their year at a hospital in the USA, the House of God, focussing on Roy Basch. Each member of the intern group ends up psychologically damaged somehow by the combination of very long hours, extremely yet unexcitingly sick patients ("Gomers" - Get Out Of My Emergency Room) and idiotic bureaucracy, seeking solace in small acts of rebellion and sexual encounters with other members of staff. The plot illustrates the oddness of doing everything "by the book", which often does the patients considerable harm, versus Doing Nothing, one of the principles taught by the Fat Man, the protagonist's mentor and God-like figure at the hospital ("If you don't take a temperature you can't find a fever"). The Fat Man teaches various "laws" of the House of God, such as "Gomers don't die" and "The patient is the one with the disease".

I definitely shouldn't have laughed while reading this, but I couldn't help myself; it was either that or cry. Highly recommended. I'm now reading Mount Misery, the sequel...

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