Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story

Gabriel Weston

Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story

How does it feel to hold someone's life in your hands? What is it like to cut into someone else's body? How do you tell a beautiful young man who seems perfectly fit that he has only a few days left to live? What happens when, on a quiet ward late at night, a patient you've grown close to lifts the corner of his blankets and invites you into his bed? What is it like to stand by, powerless, while someone dies because of the incompetence of your seniors? In this startling and honest book, female surgeon Gabriel Weston allows light to fall on the questions we have all wanted to ask about surgery. As well as an experienced surgeon, she is a writer of arresting talent: her compassionate and insightful account achieves what many fear the surgical profession itself fails to do, combining a fierce sense of human dignity with the professional necessity for detachment. Direct Red is also unusual in telling the truth about what it is like to be a woman competing in a world dominated by Alpha males, in the big-city hospitals of the twenty-first century. She tells us what it is like to 'just go home and watch TV after acts that in a different setting could as easily point to the asylum'. 4.6 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Health & Medical
Format Hardback
Pages 192
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication February 2009
ISBN 978-0224084390
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

How does it feel to hold someone's life in your hands? What is it like to cut into someone else's body? How do you tell a beautiful young man who seems perfectly fit that he has only a few days left to live? What happens when, on a quiet ward late at night, a patient you've grown close to lifts the corner of his blankets and invites you into his bed? What is it like to stand by, powerless, while someone dies because of the incompetence of your seniors? In this startling and honest book, female surgeon Gabriel Weston allows light to fall on the questions we have all wanted to ask about surgery. As well as an experienced surgeon, she is a writer of arresting talent: her compassionate and insightful account achieves what many fear the surgical profession itself fails to do, combining a fierce sense of human dignity with the professional necessity for detachment. Direct Red is also unusual in telling the truth about what it is like to be a woman competing in a world dominated by Alpha males, in the big-city hospitals of the twenty-first century. She tells us what it is like to 'just go home and watch TV after acts that in a different setting could as easily point to the asylum'.

Read an extract from the book on the Guardian's website

Reviews

The Literary Review

Anthony Daniels

It is concise, literate, truthful and often moving... Altogether, Direct Redis as well-written and sensitive an account, by a decent, cultivated and highly intelligent person, of the glories and miseries of the practice of medicine as you are likely ever to read.

01/02/2009

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The Daily Mail

Dr Thomas Stuttaford

Her writing is firstclass and has more than the whiff of ether. It reeks of the smell of the wards, outpatients and theatre. Her writing is so vivid that a reader can hear the blood dripping on to the floor and feel the discomfort of the sweat trickling down her back, or pooling in her surgical gloves where it turns pink with the blood that has permeated through needle holes. However, there is more to the book than this, as it raises important questions...

02/03/2009

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The Observer

Elizabeth Day

Direct Red is a curiously thrilling read, written with an elegance of expression heightened by both its clarity and economy. Weston slices into sentences with scalpel-like precision... I can't remember reading a book that absorbed me so completely, that was so riveting and yet so exact, that so cherished the beauty of language even when using it to convey the ugliest extremes of disease.

15/01/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Nicholas Shakespeare

Her clear, exact sentences untangle the most complex situations and emotions. Medical jargon becomes a form of poetry that injects her pages with authenticity, freshness, even humour... Anyone remotely interested in medicine should read her book. In bringing us a front-line report from an often alien territory, she does for the practise of surgery what Anna Funder in Stasiland did for East Germany. I hope the judges of the Samuel Johnson Prize are taking note.

06/02/2009

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The Guardian

Phil Whitaker

She is alive to the sensuousness of the world yet renders it in spare, arresting prose... Weston is acutely aware, too, of the less than edifying transactions that sometimes occur between doctors and patients. She examines these with an honesty that is both brave and uncomfortable... The most affecting aspect of the book is the emotional journey Weston has travelled...

14/02/2009

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The Times

Iain Finlayson

Weston is an ear, nose and throat surgeon, which is just about all she tells us about herself. But she is not anonymous: her wisdom, empathy, morality and self-awareness are very revealing... Her writing is as incisive, precise and clean as keyhole surgery.

21/02/2009

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The Sunday Times

Christopher Hart

Gabriel Weston's unadorned style is superbly honest, and her descriptions of bodies under the knife are not for the squeamish... Direct Red is a slim, precise volume that gives us a blood-red close-up rather than anything more extensive, and the author chooses to leave much unsaid... Nevertheless, this is a valuable and unflinching account, for all its grimness and gruesomeness, since it so clearly tells us the truth.

01/02/2009

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