Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures

by Vincent Lam | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0385661444 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Ibis3 of Newcastle, Ontario Canada on 10/21/2006
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
15 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Ibis3 from Newcastle, Ontario Canada on Saturday, October 21, 2006
From the back cover:
"Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures is an astonishing literary debut, a collection of mature and intricate stories connected through the relationships that develop among a group of young doctors as they move from the challenges of med school to the intense world of emergency rooms, evac missions, and terrifying new viruses.

Vincent Lam holds in delicate and skilful tension, black humour, investigations of both common and extraordinary moral dilemmas, and a sometimes shockingly realistic and matter-of-fact portrait of today's medical profession."

Giller shortlisted.

Journal Entry 2 by Ibis3 from Newcastle, Ontario Canada on Monday, November 27, 2006
I liked this book and read it in a single day, but I was quite surprised that he won the Giller for it--of the Giller shortlisted books I've read, I preferred The Immaculate Conception, a much better book in my opinion. Still, it was a promising first book and I will give him another go when book number 2 comes out. I liked the format--short stories told from different points of view and even in different narrative voices but with recurring characters. I've often thought that would probably be similar to the approach I would take were I ever to get around to writing something myself.

**spoiler ahead**

I was sad to find out what happened to Sri--he seemed to me to be the most interesting of Lam's characters.

** end spoiler**

Journal Entry 3 by Ibis3 from Newcastle, Ontario Canada on Monday, November 27, 2006
This will be my longest bookring yet, but certainly not the best of the books I've sent out into the world this way. But I guess buzz is everything right? ;-)

Ring Guidelines:

1. When you receive the book, make a journal entry to let me know it got to you ok.
2. When you're done, make a journal entry and let us know what you thought.
3. PM the person next in order (please check here for the current order) for a current mailing address (please confirm that they're ready to receive the book).
4. Mail the book, make a journal entry and mark the book as travelling.

*keep the book for a maximum of 4 weeks. If you feel you can't read it in this amount of time, or you wish to be skipped for any reason, let me know & I'll rearrange the mailing order.
*feel free to include a postcard, bookmark or other trinket with the book.

Thanks & have fun reading!

Order of go:
sent on November 27/06 -->
1. Dunzy (British Columbia, Canada) - arrived December 1/06; handed over December 30/06
2. loveamystery (British Columbia, Canada) - received December 30/06; sent January 13/07
3. Childermass (British Columbia, Canada) - **skipped**
3. Pooker3 (Manitoba, Canada) - arrived January 17/07;
4. gypsysmom (Manitoba, Canada)
5. geishabird (Ontario, Canada)
6. CdnLibrarian (Ontario, Canada)
7. deereads (Ontario, Canada)
8. glade1 (North Carolina, USA)
9. elizardbreath (Oregon, USA)
10. Rrrcaron (New Hampshire, USA)
11. Cross-patch (Leistershire, UK)
12. Nell-Lu (Scotland, UK)
13. Annodyne (Cheshire, UK)
14. sudokugirl (Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina)
15. menalima (Seixal, Portugal)
16. marko167 (Basel-Stadt, Switzerland)
17. amberC (Northern Territory, Australia)
18. DrCris (Victoria, Australia)
... Back to Ibis3 (Ontario, Canada)

Journal Entry 4 by Dunzy from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada on Friday, December 01, 2006
Thanks for the swift turnaround, Ibis -- this is only the second book I've had a chance to read in 2006 before the headlines about it had withered away!

Journal Entry 5 by Dunzy from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada on Sunday, December 24, 2006
My best bedside book in years -- each of the tenuously connected stories turned out to be just right for one session of horizontal reading. Thanks for launching it on its rounds, Ibis.

I enjoyed the variety of themes and moods, and the unfamiliar professional viewpoints that were brought to bear on painfully familiar situations. (The tellings were usually a bit clinical, but that seemed quite appropriate.) Sadness and joy were craftily mixed.

Dr. Lam is not, or not yet, a master of Big Yuks, nor does he try to be. Still, now and again I felt as though I'd stumbled into an urban update of M*A*S*H -- and once or twice I laughed so hard that I almost fell out of bed.

Journal Entry 6 by Dunzy at RABCK in Family Member, Family Member -- Controlled Releases on Friday, December 29, 2006

Released 14 yrs ago (12/29/2006 UTC) at RABCK in Family Member, Family Member -- Controlled Releases



Passed along to the next bookringer.

Journal Entry 7 by loveamystery from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada on Saturday, December 30, 2006
Thanks dunzy, for dropping this book off for me. It looks like a good read.

Journal Entry 8 by loveamystery from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada on Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I really did not like this book very much. I found it very unsettling, but then that is probably what the author wanted me to feel. The entire atmosphere was one of illness, both physical and mental, and I don't just mean the patients.
Thank you Ibis3 for sharing it.

Journal Entry 9 by loveamystery at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, January 13, 2007

Released 14 yrs ago (1/13/2007 UTC) at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



This book is now on its way to Pooker3 in Winnipeg. Thanks Ibis3 for sharing it.

Journal Entry 10 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Book arrived in today's post! I'm looking forward to reading this, but I must say The Globe and Mail's cover blurb gives me pause for thought: "This is a first collection that will find itself shoulder to shoulder with the best first collections published this year." Sounds a bit iffy to me. I suppose it all depends on how many first collections are published and how many of those qualify into the class of the best. I recall that there were always some dumb bunnies in my class pictures! Will let you know.

Journal Entry 11 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, February 11, 2007
I am about two thirds of the way through this book and hope to get it done by Tuesday so that, assuming I can get to our BC meetup on Tuesday, I can pass it on to gypsysmom. So, I'll jot my thoughts down now.

This was definitely not my most "comfy" read. In fact I found it quite unsettling. But thought-provoking. There are a couple of bits that will likely stay with me for ever. The "barbecue" comment for one.

Early in my life I developed a list of professions that I knew I could not be when I grew up. Among them, police officer, firefighter and anything in the medical profession. The latter made the list when I unknowingly cut myself and spied my own red blood on the white bread I had been slicing and almost fainted. However, I do have within my extended family both a firefighter and a police officer. As people they are both kind and funny, but I find them both emotionally or intimately distant. I know that they both have a circle of friends quite apart from "the rest of us" with whom they choose to socialize, people from their own profession. I have always surmised that within this circle, they are likely more intimate and personal because of the shared experience, experience that anyone outside their occupation would not, or even want to, understand.

Lam very successfully puts my blood stained bread in my face and reminds me that I could not possibly be, would not want to be, a doctor.

Journal Entry 12 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, February 18, 2007
Well I didn't make it to our BC meeting Tuesday, so gypsysmom and I will meet at lunch in the next few days to make the exchange. That gives me a chance to prattle on a bit more.

Having finished the book now, I am struck by how Lam has managed to both dehumanize and humanize (if those are the right words) his doctors as the book progresses. I found myself more intimately connected with them in the earlier stories than the latter. It's as if (much in the same way as I've described my family members in my previous post) they've become more distant emotionally as they've gained experience as doctors. At the same time though they have become more human and fallible.

I've always thought that people tended to deify doctors. But doctors are human beings just like the rest of us. That is, people tend to think if they are sick or broken, they just have to do to the doctor and s/he'll fix them. Of course, as in any profession, there are good and not so good practitioners. Some just barely squeaked through med-school. Some have not kept up with the newest thing. Even the best and brightest sometimes just do not know and all of them must make mistakes from time to time.

Yes, I definitely would not make a good doctor. I think the pressure to be all-knowing, all-capable would be too much to bear.

Journal Entry 13 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, February 23, 2007
Passed on by hand to gypsysmom who braved the snow and downtown traffic to pick it up from me. Thanks gypsysmom. Hope you enjoy the book!

Journal Entry 14 by winggypsysmomwing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, February 25, 2007
Sorry to take so long to journal that I've picked this up from Pooker3. My husband was hogging the computer! (This is quite a new thing for him. He bought me (supposedly) a new computer at Christmas and it has all the bells and whistles so he has discovered downloading music (from a pay site) and now he spends even more time at the computer than I do!) Anyway, I am glad to have this Giller prize winner to read although I have another bookring book to read before it. I'll journal again when I finish it.

Journal Entry 15 by winggypsysmomwing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I'm not usually a fan of compilations of short stories. I believe people who write short stories have to be even better writers than novelists because of the limited space, time and words to convey an idea, story or emotion. When I first started reading this book I thought it would also be one of those good attempts but ultimate failures. However, by the time I got to The Long Migration (story #5) I was hooked. The fact that the stories all involve one or more of the characters introduced in the first stories helped I think. Above all, Dr. Lam is a master at choosing the right words and phrases. His pacing fits the milieu of the story so that stories set in the emergency room fit the frantic pace there while the story about his grandfather was slow and reflective I thought.

I think Dr. Lam has done a great job of personalizing medical practitioners and I will be keeping that in mind on my next doctor's visit.

I'll pm geishabird so I can send this book on its way to the next participant. Thanks Ibis for starting the ring and great job on picking an appropriate picture for the label.

Journal Entry 16 by winggypsysmomwing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Thursday, March 22, 2007
I just dropped this book off at the post office so it's on its way to geishabird. I decided to send it by Express Post because the difference between that method and regular post was so little and it includes insurance. Why does it cost so much to send books within Canada? Has anyone ever tried lobbying for a media rate like they have in the United States? Sorry to put this into my journal entry as I suppose it's not appropriate content but every time I mail in Canada I get upset.

Journal Entry 17 by geishabird from Toronto, Ontario Canada on Monday, March 26, 2007
Received today; thanks very much. Funnily enough, I was sitting next to someone at the bus stop today who was reading this very book; then I come home to find it in my mailbox. It's everywhere!

(It's okay, gypsysmom, I can't stand the postal rates here either...)

Journal Entry 18 by geishabird from Toronto, Ontario Canada on Sunday, April 01, 2007
Well, I enjoyed this very much. I'm always fascinated by medical & scientific subjects and found this a terrific read. Lam portrays the frailties and weaknesses of medical professionals with great poignancy and insight. I found this book read much more like a novel than a collection of short fiction, obviously because of the linking stories and characters. (I recently read David Bezmozgis' Natasha and Other Stories and found it very much along the same lines.) And as a result of this, I felt that I could make more of an emotional commitment to the characters, which always makes a book resonate more strongly with me.

I particularly enjoyed (if that's the right word!) "Contract Tracing"; living in Toronto as I do, it was interesting to see the SARS outbreak described from this perspective.

One of the most startling stories to me was "Eli" - it put me in mind of some of Shirley Jackson's unsettling little tales. Talk about human weaknesses...


I really wonder if we're to assume that Fitzgerald didn't survive the SARS outbreak. It wouldn't really surprise me, considering how Lam seems to have chronicled his gradual decline and fall throughout the course of his medical career. It's a sad journey we follow him on. Perhaps it's Lam's way of reminding us that "many are called, but few are chosen"?


Again, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A fascinating and uneasy look into the "magical" world that we all rely on to keep us alive. Perhaps it's time we all gave it a good look, with open eyes.

I've PMed CdnLibrarian and will send the book on its way as soon as possible. Thanks for sharing!

April 2: CdnLibrarian would like to be removed from the ring, so I've PMed the next person on the list.

Also, I found Vincent Lam's website here. Take a look; it's pretty interesting.

Journal Entry 19 by geishabird from Toronto, Ontario Canada on Saturday, April 07, 2007
Book was mailed to deereads today...enjoy!

Journal Entry 20 by deereads from Barrie, Ontario Canada on Thursday, April 12, 2007
Arrived in yesterday's mail. Thanks for sharing - will be getting into it over weekend!!

Journal Entry 21 by deereads from Barrie, Ontario Canada on Sunday, April 15, 2007
Very enjoyable reading for me. I agree with some of the other comments made about showing the detachment that can happen throughout a medical career - and I have witnessed this (had it pointed out) in myself!! I work in a busy walk-in clinic and what I consider an emergency is totally different from a patient's point of view.

I really enjoyed the story with the elderly lady and her hiccoughs - and then wanting a referral for her rash!! I witness this daily - - "oh, while I am here anyway.....". The story surrounding the SARS outbreak was quite interesting for me to read as I was working through this as well and wore the dreaded masks/gowns/gloves and had the same worries about going home to my family after work.

I often feel like people are expecting the medical profession to turn into the same quick-any-time service that we are getting from the "big box stores".

Overall - very enjoyable and entertaining for me. Will be looking forward to reading Dr. Lam's next work. Thank you for sharing Ibis. I have sent a PM to the next in line and am waiting for an address. Will post when sent on.

April 19/07 - next in line has asked to be skipped. Will contact next in line.

Journal Entry 22 by deereads from Barrie, Ontario Canada on Monday, April 23, 2007
glade1 asked to be skipped. Have mailed out today to elizardbreath. Enjoy!!

Journal Entry 23 by wingelizardbreathwing from Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Friday, May 04, 2007
Received today...thank you!

Journal Entry 24 by wingelizardbreathwing from Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Sunday, May 27, 2007
This is not at all what I was expecting! :) PMing Rrrcaron to send it forward!

Journal Entry 25 by wingelizardbreathwing from Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Still attempting to reach rrcaron...

Journal Entry 26 by wingelizardbreathwing from Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Still not heard from rrrcaron. PM'd cross-patch.

Released 13 yrs ago (6/23/2007 UTC) at Controlled Release in Controlled Release, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases



Sent to Rrrcaron several days ago.

Journal Entry 28 by Rrrcaron from Lancaster, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Received this in the mail today. I Have a few to read beforehand, but it shouldn't take long. Ruth

Journal Entry 29 by Rrrcaron from Lancaster, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, August 02, 2007
I enjoyed this read. These doctors live (and Die) a hectic life, and I enjoyed following their lives and careers. It seems that their lives are controlled by their jobs, absolutely not a career I would pursue! I was a little upset by the ending, but that happens sometimes, lol. Sending on to next in line...

Journal Entry 30 by wingCross-patchwing from Leicester, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Thursday, August 23, 2007
Arrived today. Thank you Rrrcaron and Ibis3. I see this book has been through a lot of hands - and looks very good for all that travelling. I shall try to get it on its way speedily.

Journal Entry 31 by wingCross-patchwing from Leicester, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Thursday, September 27, 2007
This wasn't quite what I expected, but what that was I'm not sure. I didn't find it gory at all. I thought the night in ER with Chan was particularly interesting; the relentless grind of case after case leaving its mark on the doctors' sensibilities. There was a sort of short story style in the abrupt change of chapters, but the relationship between the cast was well presented and worked for me. I'll be looking out for more from this author, now that I've had a chance to sample his work - thank you Ibis3 for that.

I've just contacted Nell-Lu for an address and shall post on as soon as I have it....ready to go!

Journal Entry 32 by Nell-Lu from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, September 29, 2007
Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures arrived this morning - thanks Ibis3 for starting the ring and Cross-patch for the book and postcard. I've been looking forward to this one! I'll get on to it when I finish my current book and will send it on its way next week.

Journal Entry 33 by Nell-Lu from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Thursday, October 04, 2007
I found this really interesting. It is well written - the language is both spare and beautiful. The characters come to life and, for all their flaws, I found I cared about them. I liked it that no character was perfect. Even Chen, who seemed close, struggled with night shifts and got road rage. Yet, their imperfections often helped - could Ming have carried out *that* procedure if she didn't have an emotional distance from others?

My only 'complaint' is that I wanted more! I always struggle with short stories: having been given a glimpse into a character's life I want to get to know them better. Even the linked, episodic nature of these stories didn't stop me from wanting the gaps filled. The brief description of Lam's first novel at the back implies it may be about Chen's grandfather. I'm off to look it up now...

Thanks for sharing, Ibis3. This will be posted to Annodyne this afternoon.

Journal Entry 34 by Nell-Lu from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Thursday, October 04, 2007
Curses! I have just realised that the latest postal strike in the UK starts today and goes on until next Wednesday. So, this book won't be able to travel until late next week, and then will probably go very slowly as there will be quite a backlog. Sorry for the delay.

Journal Entry 35 by Nell-Lu from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Thursday, October 11, 2007
I was finally able to get this in the post yesterday. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that the ongoing disruption doesn't slow down its journey too much.

Journal Entry 36 by Annodyne from Sale, Cheshire United Kingdom on Thursday, October 18, 2007
Excellent timing Nell-Lu! I was finishing the last few pages of my last read when I came home last night to find that this book had arrived.
I'm already into Chapter 1, and will journal again in the next few days.

Journal Entry 37 by Annodyne from Sale, Cheshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures confirms what I've always suspected as an outsider looking on: that the world of medicine is a mixture of the bizarre, macabre, chaotic, bone-aching weariness, and downright miraculous. This is reflected in the stories that Vincent Lam has put together in this book, with the common link of a small group of people for whom this has become normality.

I have had a break from routine for the last few days with a severe cut in my usual reading time, so I sat up late into the night to finsh "Bloodletting..." I found all the characters and situations engrossing, well written, and believable. The suddenly shocking - and heroic - conclusion to the "Contract Tracing" chapter brought tears to my eyes.

Brilliant book! One of the best things about Bookcrossing is that it has given me the chance to read and enjoy books that I wouldn't otherwise have come across. Thanks to Ibis3 for making this Canadian gem available as a bookring.

I have sudokugirl's adddress and hopefully it will be on its way to her either today or tomorrow.

Edited 24/10/07 to add that it has been posted today by air-mail.

Journal Entry 38 by sudokugirl from Sarajevo, Sarajevo Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Arrived safe and sound today. Looking forward to reading it.

Journal Entry 39 by sudokugirl from Sarajevo, Sarajevo Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday, November 29, 2007
Not bad at all, but not exactly a gripping read. Thank you for sharing, Ibis3. The book will be sent to menalima tomorrow.

Journal Entry 40 by sudokugirl at to the next participant in By mail, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, December 01, 2007

Released 13 yrs ago (12/1/2007 UTC) at to the next participant in By mail, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



Sent to menalima.

Journal Entry 41 by menalima on Saturday, December 29, 2007
Reveiced book yesterday, going to start reading. Thanks for sharing!!

Journal Entry 42 by menalima on Saturday, April 19, 2008
Have finally finished the book, so sorry for the long time I took have had some family issues...have asked marko167 for address.

Thanks for sharing!

Posted to marko167 on the 1st Oct. I do apologise for the very long delay!!

Journal Entry 43 by marko167 from Sant Pere de Ribes, Barcelona Spain on Monday, January 12, 2009
Ooops! Thought I'd registered receiving this book but it appears not, apologies.

Anyway, I was looking forward to this collection but sad to say for me it didn't reach my expectations. Whilst one or two of the stories were good the majority just left me flat and feeling short changed. I forced myself to finish it although on more than one occasion it got relegated to back up book as it didn't grip me.

Oh well thanks any way. Have PMed amberC for address.

AmberC asked to be skipped, DrCris PMed.

DrCris has already read the book so have PMed Ibis3 so I can send the book home.

Journal Entry 44 by marko167 at Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, January 15, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (1/15/2009 UTC) at Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



Off it flies home to the land of beaver tails and chips with gravy.

Journal Entry 45 by Ibis3 from Newcastle, Ontario Canada on Thursday, February 05, 2009
This book made it back home. Thanks everyone for participating!

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