The Field Notes Book Group is going to end this season with a deep and fascinating read, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande, the surgeon turned author whose previous books, like this one, have all been bestsellers. The group will be meeting on Saturday, June 18, from 11 to 12:30 at the library, and as usual there will be coffee, doughnut holes and lively discussion.
If you’ve read Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science or Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, you don’t need any introduction to Gawande. Not only is he a skilled surgeon and a close observer of human nature in some of its most dire circumstances, but he is a vivid and humane writer as well, able to bring complicated and difficult procedures to clear life and make a reader feel as if she or he is actually present. Gawande also writes periodic articles for New Yorker magazine, and is always a pleasure to read.
The topic of this book might seem depressing. Who wants to think about nursing homes and end of life directives and all that dreary stuff? But Gawande contends that our reluctance to look at these issues is part of the problem, and that we can’t deal with the difficulties of the end of life if we can’t even talk about them. And fundamentally Gawande is not a pessimist or a doomsayer. He believes there are things we can do that will make things better, not only for the people who are dying but for those who love them, and he describes solutions that are already being tried, alternatives to nursing homes and excessive amounts of medical care at the end of people’s lives which actually work.
Come and pick up your copy of Being Mortal at the library and then join us for a stimulating discussion about the things that really matter.