This treatment fails: Book review of Logbook of Hospital Life
Logbook of Hospital Life has little to do with hospitals.books Updated: Apr 14, 2017 21:04 IST
In life, you will read a lot of books. Many of them will disappoint you. Many won’t matter. And there will be a time when you ask yourself: ‘why am I reading? Why am I still trying?’
This is how Meredith Grey would open if she had to write about Logbook of Hospital Life. Popular TV shows Grey’s Anatomy, House MD and Scrubs have contrived a fascinating, if not glamorous and ridiculously attractive, habitat of doctors and surgeons. These medical dramas have created a devoted fan following with their rare diseases, frequent miracles and soul-crushing tragedies. The operating theatre is now a space for divine intervention where people are laid bare to a stranger. The sterile corridors are places of gossip and lives; they are the bones beneath the skin. A hospital works like a beautiful machine where life and death graciously join hands. The doctors who once appeared to be robots are fleshed into humans, complete with a heart and a spirit.
It’s safe to assume that the dramas are reality; the surgeons with their favourite scrub caps and God complexes are actual people. May be that’s what Logbook of Hospital Life was supposed to be, not just intriguing, but also a cure from exaggerated shows that turn viewers into addicts. Trust was easily reposed in the author – also a surgeon, a medical researcher and practitioner -- to guide the reader towards an accurate diagnosis and tell what really goes into the profession.
Logbook of Hospital Life begins with a death mystery that is eventually traced to minute errors that ripple into a fatal effect. It is the only story that injects an awe of the medical profession and reminds the reader that doctors and supporting staff are precariously handling the delicate thread of life.
But it takes just two stories to know the book is a lost case. What starts as a strong rhythm progresses into a rudimentary narrative. With every breath, Logbook of Hospital Life deepens its wounds. The initial intrigue denigrates into a parable on abortion, which is farcical in its gory description of ‘partial birth abortion’ – an outlawed procedure that is often misused as propaganda by pro-life activists. The writer, Dr Gopal Kabra, conveniently glosses over this detail as he sows a grotesque imagery of a baby being stunted from the womb. It is vital to shame such deceptions in the Trump-ian age that has spiked a threatening fever against women’s freedom to choice even in the developed part of the world.
In retrospection, Logbook of Hospital Life has little to do with hospitals.
With every turn of the page, its condition spirals into critical. A few chapters dissolve into unrelated stories of medical discoveries, which to be honest, can be found with a simple search on Google. Other times, the author infuriates you with a periodic dose of immodesty and self-admiration. The rest of the narrative deviates to tell about residents in an ashram for the terminally-ill and their personal battles against medical conditions.
I’m sorry to say but the treatment fails, the line flattens and the lights go out. But if you’re still wondering why you continued reading, Meredith Grey might have the answer.
Because you love it, even if, sometimes, it feels like banging your head on the wall.
Logbook of Hospital Life
By Dr Gopal Kabra
Publisher: Antara Infomedia Pvt Ltd
Price: Rs 250
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First Published: Apr 14, 2017 21:04 IST