Cover image for Love and modern medicine : stories
Love and modern medicine : stories
Klass, Perri, 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
Physical Description:
182 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"A Mariner original."
For women everywhere -- Rainbow mama -- Necessary risks -- Intimacy -- City sidewalks -- Exact change -- Freedom fighter -- Dedication -- The trouble with Sophie -- The province of the bearded fathers -- Love and modern medicine.
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The New York Times has described Perri Klass's short stories as "subtly astonishing and very funny. Klass writes stories that sound true. She's a medical school graduate, a passionate traveler, a mother, a writer. Her preoccupations come forth in her stories. She has plenty to say about love in a science-drunk world, how the brain works, and the heart. And how the sparks fly when the two collide." Sparks fly again in her new collection, LOVE AND MODERN MEDICINE, a literary tapesty of the beauties and terrors of contemporary domesticity.
Instantly recognizable, the appealing characters in these stories are the able sort who can cope with any crisis at work but are often undone by the complexities of life at home. They are parents, doctors, patients, friends, and lovers, who encounter one another in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, in a world in which professional expertise -- even the finest medical expertise -- cannot always ward off threats to everyday happiness.
In "Freedom Fighter," a pregnant obstetrician steals a getaway weekend with an old friend among the outlet malls of northern New England. A fruit-fly geneticist in "The Trouble with Sophie" struggles to contend with her daughter's jargon-spouting kindergarten teacher. In "Intimacy," a high school biology teacher, exhausted by new motherhood, listens bleary-eyed to the details of her coworker's "intimacy counseling" with her latest boyfriend. And in "Necessary Risks," an anesthesiologist balks at spending two weeks alone with her energetic and precocious four-year-old. Including three O. Henry Award -- winning stories, LOVE AND MODERN MEDICINE is full of small wonders and large satisfactions.

Author Notes

Perri Klass is a practicing pediatrician, an acclaimed author of fiction & nonfiction, & a prizewinning journalist. She has won five O. Henry Awards for her short stories, including three of the stories in "Love & Modern Medicine". Her fiction includes two novels, "Recombinations & Other Women's Children", & a collection of short stories, "I Am Having an Adventure". She has also written two collections of essays about medicine, "A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years as a Medical Student" & "Baby Doctor: A Pediatrician's Training". Her columns & articles have appeared in the "New York Times Magazine", the "Washington Post", the "Boston Globe", "Discover", & "Parenting". She recently won a James Beard Foundation Award for an article in "Gourmet", "The Lunch Box as Battlefield."

Both Klass's fiction & her journalism have dealt with issues of medicine & society. In her medical career she practices pediatrics at Dorchester House, a neighborhood health center in Boston, & is medical director of the national literacy program Reach Out & Read, dedicated to making books & literacy promotion part of pediatric primary care.

Klass lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Larry Wolff, a professor of history at Boston College, & their children.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The frustrations and rewards of modern domestic life provide the context for the 11 stories in this collection. Most of the characters are parents new or experienced contemplating both the wonder and the alienation of family life. Like the author (a pediatrician), many of the adults in these stories work in medicine or related fields and juggle various roles. An anesthesiologist in "Necessary Risks," for example, is more accustomed to her breadwinner status in the family than to spending time alone with her four-year-old daughter, and the obstetrician in "Freedom Fighter" contends with her third pregnancy while trying to find common ground with an old college friend on a weekend road trip in New England. Professional knowledge and competence is often contrasted with domestic helplessness, prompting internal psychological musing and admissions of fear and weakness. In "The Trouble with Sophie," a fruit-fly geneticist and her outgoing attorney husband react in very different ways when a kindergarten teacher recommends that their bright but undisciplined daughter attend therapy; in the title story, a pediatrician and mother reflects on the limits of modern knowledge when the half-sister she has never really liked loses her baby to sudden infant death syndrome. As a medical professional and nonfiction writer, as well as an award-winning fiction writer (Recombinations, etc.), Klass knows her territory well. (May 1) Forecast: A Mother's Day promotion and Northeast regional author's tour should reach just the right audience for Klass's brand of humorous domestic realism. Accomplished but also easy to read, this collection should be an easy handsell to aficionados of contemporary women's literature and may attract crossover mass market readers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Most of these enjoyable stories concern young couples, families, and either fetuses or babies involved in relationships that Klass presents sympathetically and realistically. Many characters work in professional or academic fields that Klass has already skillfully portrayed. In "Necessary Risks," for example, Caroline is an anesthesiologist faced with two weeks at home with her four-year-old, Emilie, while husband Steve, a mathematician, and son Gary head off to two weeks at a dude ranch. Emilie, a bundle of energy, sings and creates confusion while Caroline tries to think through some of her case plans. But the results of her efforts are often best indicated by her exasperated comment, "Every damn morning is some version of this." This is all perfectly normal, but it is neatly thought out and written. So is "Exact Change," in which group medical practice coordinator Elaine ruminates, convincing us that we know someone just like her. All 11 stories are good reading. --William Beatty

Library Journal Review

Klass, a pediatrician and author of nonfiction as well as novels, has gathered 11 sparkling short stories sharing the theme of domestic life. The mothers are generally practical, scientific types struggling with the messy reality of mixing children and work. Three of the stories were O. Henry award winners, and there isn't a clunker in the bunch. Among the best is "The Trouble with Sophie," in which the tall, thin, dark parents of rambunctious golden-haired Sophie are sent reeling when the teacher at her carefully selected private kindergarten suggests therapy for their emotionally disturbed daughter. In another fine story, "Freedom Fighter," a very pregnant doctor and mother of two sets off on an escape weekend to Maine with a college friend whose one son is grown. Very, very good work. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



For Women EverywhereAlison, in her ninth month, finds she can no longer turn over in bed at night without waking up. The hydraulics of shifting her belly are just too complex, and to get from her left side to her right, she has to maneuver herself delicately, tucking her elbow under and using it as a lever, swinging her abdomen over the top. Turning over the other way, belly down, is not possible; if she could, she imagines, she would look like a circus seal balancing on a huge ball. When her best friend from high school arrives to keep her company and wait for the birth, Alison hopes to be distracted; lately, she thinks of nothing but the advent of labor. When will this baby come out, when will the pains start that will be unmistakably something new, something she has never felt before? Her obstetrician suggested that they might feel like bad menstrual cramps, which Alison has never had. And she is now accustomed to the small tightenings inside her belly that occur every now and then; Braxton-Hicks contraction, she tells her friend Doris, who thereafter asks her, if she should happen to clutch herself, "Another Brixie-Hixie?" It is very nice to have Doris around. For one thing, unpregnant, Doris is easily as big as Alison in her ninth month. Doris was big in high school and shes bigger now. She buys her clothes in special stores that sell silk and velvet and linen for the fat working woman, and all her lingerie is peach. She smells of a perfume named after a designer, familiar to Alison because of little scented cardboard samples in a million magazines - open this flap to enjoy the magic - opposite honey-toned photos of naked bodies arranged like fruit in a basket. Doriss possessions fit surprisingly well into what she calls the tawdry jungle glamour of Alisons apartment. Among the overgrown plants with Christmas lights strung through them and the life-size stuffed animals and the bongo collection, Doris reclines in her jumpsuits, taking her ease as if waiting for her palanquin. When Doris and Alison walk down the street together on their way to get hamburgers and onion rings, Alison feels like they are a phalanx. Finally she has the nerve to wear a big straw hat with fuchsia flowers out in public, stealing it off her stuffed giraffe. Hey, big mamas, she imagines someone shouting (not that anyone ever does). Together, she and Doris take up their share of the street and of the hamburger restaurant, where the waitress greets them by saying, The usual, right? Alison is by now pretty well used to the rude and stupid and none-of- their-business things that people say to her. But good old Doris walked into her apartment, put down her two suitcases and her handbag and her camera case, and informed Alison, looking narrowly at her ballooned abdomen, "Alison, you are doing this For Women Everywhere." Then she gave a Bronx cheer. "Right," said Alison with relief, wondering how Doris knew. The world is full of well-meaning people who fe Excerpted from Love and Modern Medicine: Stories by Perri Klass All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

For Women Everywherep. 1
Rainbow Mamap. 16
Necessary Risksp. 30
Intimacyp. 52
City Sidewalksp. 68
Exact Changep. 85
Freedom Fighterp. 96
Dedicationp. 120
The Trouble with Sophiep. 138
The Province of the Bearded Fathersp. 159
Love and Modern Medicinep. 171