Physician as Novelist

or Why the Best Training for a Novelist in These Last Years of the 20th Century is an Internship at Bellevue or Cook County Hospital, and How This Training Best Prepares Him for Diagnosing T.S. Eliot's 'Waste Land'

But let us speak of vocations. What one ends up doing with one's life is surely one of God's mysteries. And a good deal of luck, good luck and bad luck, is involved as well as, I firmly believe, God's providence.

Who among us is doing what he, she, dreamed of doing when he, she, was 8, 12, 16? Perhaps it is just as well we are not. At 12 I wanted to fly the Pacific because Lindbergh had flown the Atlantic.

I'd like to share with you some of the misfortunes, peculiar turns of fate, and finally the piece of luck or Divine Providence, as the case may be, by which I turned out doing what I am doing, something that had never occurred to me to do, not once in my wildest dreams, but that I like doing, not because I do it all that well but because I am incompetent doing anything else.

Growing up, I was a reluctant attendant at Sunday school and a secret devotee of science, or what I took to be science. My favorite writer in my teens was H.G. Wells, who believed that all events in the cosmos, even human history, can be explained by natural science, and a rather crude science at that.

Actually it is not a bad way to grow up in the...

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