What Cannot Be Undone
160 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Release Date:15 Feb 2022

What Cannot Be Undone

True Stories of a Life in Medicine

University of New Mexico Press

In his award-winning debut essay collection, What Cannot Be Undone, Walter M. Robinson shares surprising stories of illness and medicine that do not sacrifice hard truth for easy dramatics. These true stories are filled with details of difficult days and nights in the world of high-tech medical care, and they show the ongoing struggle in making critical decisions with no good answer. This collection presents the raw moments where his expertise in medical ethics and pediatrics are put to the test. He is neither saint, nor hero, nor wizard. Robinson admits that on his best days he was merely ordinary. Yet in writing down the authentic stories of his patients, Robinson discovers what led him to the practice of medicine--and how his idealism was no match for the realities he faced in modern health care.

It was a gift and a relief to see the human being inside of our desperately complicated systems of mortality in both near-cinematic visceral detail ('I want to put my fingers in the wound to prove it is real') and profound reflection--faith, fear, ethics. If we're going to understand what's happening to healthcare in this country--to life and death--we need to understand its people. We need What Cannot Be Undone.'--Megan Stielstra, author of The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays
Among physician authors, Dr. Robinson stands out for his ability to peel away the common clichés and tropes that populate so much of this literary genre, giving us unflinching insights into both the utterly mundane as well as the truly extraordinary experiences of physicians and patients alike.'--Robert D. Truog MD, director of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School and coauthor of Talking with Patients and Families about Medical Error: A Guide for Education and Practice
What are the limits of the power of doctors, and of human beings? When should we intervene, and when it is our job to watch and to accept? Reading Walter Robinson is like getting stories from a brilliant war correspondent. He's our man on the ground, and the ground is medicine, life, and death. A gorgeous and important book.'--Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order and The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story
By showing us what is often hidden behind a white curtain, Dr. Walter Robinson explains how to reconcile ourselves, as others have, to sickness and to health. Everyone who has ever sweated it out in a hospital waiting room should read this astonishing book.'--Susan Cheever, author of Home Before Dark
Walter M. Robinson is a physician and a writer in Massachusetts. He is also a founding editor of EastOver Press and Cutleaf, an online literary journal. His essays have appeared in wildness, Months to Years, AGNI, Ruminate, The Sun, The Literary Review, and Harvard Review.
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