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Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  8,866 ratings  ·  608 reviews
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures invites us into a world where the ordinary becomes the critical in a matter of seconds. A formidable debut, it is a profound and unforgettable depiction of today’s doctors, patients, and hospitals.

Provocative, heartbreaking, and darkly humorous, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures introduces readers to a masterful new voice in fiction. A practic
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 26th 2006 by Anchor Canada (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  8,866 ratings  ·  608 reviews

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Mar 15, 2009 rated it liked it
3.5 - I'm really. really surprised this won the Giller Prize. Another case of a Doctor writes a book based on his work history and the critics swoon, because it's not a world typical writers come from or an arena that they cover. A novelty act, almost. Some stories are interesting, but again, I would add it's not because of the writing per se (which is readable but plain, not spare plain, just plain plain), as much as the backstage peek at a Dr.'s life. Also, it just makes me mad when other prof ...more
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medicine
This is an extremely interesting book, especially if you are acquainted with anyone who has endured the appallingly stressful rigors of medical school and lived to tell about it. Written by an author who has done just that, this book is a work of fiction that interweaves the stories of several aspiring young doctors and follows them through their professional lives. Along the way, he reveals them to be intelligent, ambitious, complicated, and very, very human. In other words, he tells his story ...more
Allegra S
Apr 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
So the last 100 pages picked up a bit and it wasn't as bad as I originally thought, but it wasn't great. The last two stories were really good concepts (doctors and nurses sick during the SARS epidemic, and what it feels like to really work an overnight ER shift) but I'm still not a fan of the style of writing. I think his best literary choice was to leave Ming and her stupid relationship problems out of the second half of the book!

I have two big problems with this book. In the beginning all th
Oct 24, 2007 rated it liked it
This book has all kinds of impressive blurbs on the back cover, including praise from Margaret Atwood and Sherman Alexie himself (who has never struck me as the easy to please type) - I initially sought it out because of a really favorable review in Entertainment Weekly. Maybe all the hoopla led me to expect too much, but I just didn't see what the big deal was. Lam is a very skilled and nuanced writer, but it still seemed like most of the stories were more driven by plot than by character devel ...more
Graham Wilhauk
This book was so good and so disappointing at the same time.

The first 100 pages of this intertwined short story collection knocked my socks off. The way that Lam introduced these characters and their situations and lives was incredible. However, what did Lam do as an author to keep the reader's interest? Well, he dropped a ton of potential storylines in order to go completely episodic and only decides to go back to the plots introduced at the beginning in the last 60 pages of the book at a very
Sarah Krymalowski
Aug 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Overall a little disappointing. The character development in the few chapters is promising, but as soon as the doctors enter the field all character development completely stops and the characterizations become inconsistent. What we are left with is what feels like an accurate window into an emergency room with minimal embellishment in the way of narrative, literary prose or character development, not that this is neccesarily negative. The world he offers the reader is both interesting and borin ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
A series of medically-themed short stories. Well-written and authentic, with the characters intertwined throughout. Doctors are humanized, make good decisions and bad decisions, question their career choice, just like the rest of us. I gotta tell you though, this book does NOT make me trust a doctor more.
Anna Engel
The "story" is told via vignettes that feature the various medical students introduced at the beginning of the book. This is lazy on the author's part because he doesn't have to develop a story or its characters. He merely places them in situations, lets them do their doctor thing, and moves on. The writing itself is plain (but plain-plain, not stylistically so) and lacks any real sense of style or personality.

The inter-character relationships are not well-developed. I disliked almost all of the
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish, ownit
Sorry Mr. Lam, sorry Giller Prize panel. I tried hard to like this, pushing through all the way to page 150, but I realized I don't really care what happens to these two-dimensional characters, or whether a theme suddenly pops into view. The anecdotes are interesting, mainly for the inclusion of the author's behind the scenes medical knowledge but I can't really see where it's going.
Oh - and the medical glossary at the end? You feel you have to define abdomen? Or vocal cords? Please.
I ha
Hidaya Alatas
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Buechler
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great examination of how doctors are normal people too. I just wish I had known about the Glossary of terms in the back of the book when I had started reading it.

Page 324
5:25 - Suddenly awake
"Dr. Chen."
A face, a curtain pulled aside, I can't see who.
"Dr. Chen!"
"Yeah I'm awake!" A panic, a heart-pounding proclamation, "I'm awake." Did I say that twice? I'm not sure what I said and what I dreamt.
"Brady at thirty. Pressure of fifty on nothing, ETA three minutes."
The voice I think it's a n
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure why, but I avoided this book a for a long time. I heard how good it was, but I just wasn't drawn to it.

I actually regret not reading it sooner. This was the author's first book (he has since written several more). A doctor by profession, he decided to write about what he knew.

Each chapter you follow someone new, but with whom you've been introduced albeit briefly. It's like following a friend of a friend. You know they exist, but not much more than that. The characters were well de
Ronald Leung
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I generally approach books about medicine with some trepidation, given it is already so familiar, but I very much enjoyed this collection of linked short stories. It follows a 4 medical students who go on to become residents and staff physicians and providing slices of the essential flavours of a career in medicine: stress and possibly burnout with glimmers of human connection throughout. Everything from the earlier parts of the novel when the characters are working to get into medical school to ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This book wasn’t at all what I expected, however if I had read the description on the back of the book it may have helped me be more prepared. It was a good read, I have definitely had a few of the same experiences and feelings in my medical career that these doctors experienced. I don’t know if would have understood or enjoyed the book as much as I did if I didn’t have a medical background. Lam used a lot of medical terminology, I know that there is a glossary in the back but using it would def ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book six stars, I would. This is a series of short stories/essays loosely connected through a group of medical students/doctors in the Toronto area. If you have some medical background you will no doubt identify with some of the vignettes (and not have to check the glossary at the back for definitions of some of the technical terms) but this would be a fascinating read for anyone. It justly deserved the Giller Prize.

I borrowed this book from the library after reading and enj
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, stem
this book single handedly rekindled my drive to study medicine again. loveee
Lisa Bacque
Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting read but overall fairly depressing and I felt like there were some stories left unfinished at the end.
Sara G
This book was sadly disappointing. I'm surprised it won the Giller Prize. I really liked this author's The Headmaster's Wager and loved that Percival Chen shows up as a minor character in one of these short stories, but ultimately most of the book was just sort of dull and dry. They're a loosely connected set of stories around doctors, following the same people from medical school applications up through later in life careers. The story "Contact Tracing" about SARS was painfully timely with the ...more
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
The overall idea this book offers is very interesting. It was fun to see the different experiences and situations that doctors could undergo. But that being said I felt as though the first half of the book was based primarily on random character relationships and background that actually had little to do with the overall story.

The end of the book was more interesting than the beginning. Although it was a unique read, it won’t be one at the top of my list.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A word of warning to the still reading: If you picked up this book because you were excited about the premise and are really interested in medicine, but now you're stuck somwhere in the dreary middle of the "Winston" chapter, or considering giving up on this book entirely after the first 100 pages, I hear you girl. Muscle through. The last few stories will reward you.
It's a slow start for sure, but I'm glad I decided to finish this one.
Colleen Earle
Really fascinating novel
Liked how it was connected short stories.
Deals with mortality, complexities on medicine, alcoholism and lost loves
Characters have great dimension and are very real.
Parts about SARS were the second hardest to read.
Working in a hospital has definitely given me a different perspective on this novel than it would have otherwise.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
2.5 stars. I mean, this was okay. I liked it less as it went on and the characters, to me, became less likeable, constrained by their careers and the medical system. It was an interesting window into the world of medical practice, especially emergency medicine, but it certainly didn’t paint a very appealing picture. Probably an honest one though. The writing was competent, but not brilliant.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Amazing. Couldn't put it down! ...more
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Listennnnn this book IS THE VIBE okay especially now it's so relevant to what's happening in the world (especially with corona) also this guy's writing is OFF THE CHARTS and he's just super good and also this book just opened my eyes and I feel ~aware~ now and overall amazing book wow I am amazed and shocked and happy and I think y'all should read it for the vibes and knowledge ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Have you ever met one of those really annoying people who have had their whole entire life plan planned out since the tender age of three and they're so organized that they could probably tell you the exact second they'll die?

Well if you haven't, now you have! The name's Gaby pleased to meet you! Side effects include: extreme anxiety when things don't go as plan, and a paranoiac need for everything to go your way!

Jokes aside, I vividly remember the day I decided what I wanted to do in life; I w
Neil Mudde
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
A great first plus Giller prize for Dr. Lam,, it gives one a good insight as to how to go about getting into medical school, never be satisfied with just 80% 100% is a must
A great insight into different cultures, Ming who is Chinese, is driven through her family to reach her highest potential, along the way she shacks up with Fitzgerald, who turns out to have problems, Ming is so organized and sets a schedule for Fitzgerald which does not allow him any free time, not wanting to give the whole st
Short stories are not really my favourite type of reading, but this was here, and I'd heard good things about it, so I read it. It was actually really good, despite having won a Canadian literary award. I found almost all the stories very interesting and quite compelling.

However. It still had the various issues that make me not really care for the short story as a form. Although you do get some insight, in the context of whatever the current situation being painted is, you don't really get to kn
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book has been sitting on my shelves for the better part of a decade. I bought it during my brief phase where I was convinced I wanted to go into the medical field (before remembering that I'm terrified of all bodily fluids and hate people), and once that phase had passed, never got around to reading it. I'm glad that I finally picked it up, because I absolutely loved it!

The interconnected stories in this collection follow four doctors through various stages in their careers, as their lives
This is a book of short stories revolving around 4 characters. We meet some when they are applicants, and others while attending medical school. We also see some unique cases when they are in their residency or later in their career. As a nurse, the jargon was not too impenetrable (although my area of practice is very far removed from the life or death pace of the emergency room) but I found that I was more interested in their interior lives, and as such I found the first few stories much more a ...more
These connected short stories explore the journeys of four medical students as they face mortality and other human limitations while the wounded constantly demand they stretch these barriers. Heroic birth is the subject of my favorite story entitled "An Insistent Tide" in the collection. In it, Lam evokes the tides to enhance the metaphor of the story. Ming and Janice achieve their goal of stretching human pain and trust thresholds by sort of going with the flow. Narrative treatment of SARS emph ...more
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ELEVEN READER'S CLUB: Bloodletting and Miraculous cures by Vincent Lam 1 12 Oct 01, 2012 07:27PM  

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