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Posts made in January, 2018

Book Review: Nonfiction Memoir

Posted by on Jan 2, 2018 |

Maximum Insecurity: A Doctor in Supermax

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Nonfiction > Autobiography > Memoir

I’ve read several books about the prison system in America from the perspective of inmates or former inmates. Reading from the perspective of a civilian who works in the prison system was an interesting point of view.

In real-world private practice, patients generally try to be as truthful as possible about their medical history and whatever pain they’re experiencing so they can be treated properly for whatever problem brought them to a doctor. Dr. Wright was an ear doctor performing surgeries and helping people who experience dizziness. He’d gotten tired of the endless paperwork hoops of private practice, but retirement didn’t suit him either. When he saw the opening at the Colorado State Penitentiary, he took the job, though his wife was dubious.

CSP isn’t like other prisons in that it houses the worst of the worst—men who couldn’t follow the rules of other prisons. For example, “don’t murder the correctional officers.” The inmates are locked up twenty-three hours a day and they don’t get contact visits with friends and relatives, which means it’s harder for them to attain drugs, although C.O.’s who want to boost their salaries can be counted on to bring in drugs. The inmates also do their best to trick Dr. Wright to give them drugs. Percocet is a favorite.

Many of the men complain of “excruciating” shoulder pain. Dr. Wright then asks how many push-ups they do a day. A typical answer might be, “Nine hundred, twice a day.” His prescription is not the Percocet they beg for, but maybe to do a few hundred less push-ups a day.

The book starts to get repetitive and there doesn’t seem to be a discernable arc. There are lots of funny asides and anecdotes, but it mostly read like I was reading Dr. Wright’s diary. Though he was dealing with pedophiles and rapists and murderers, he seems remarkably calm about it, so there wasn’t tension that he’d get seriously hurt by any of the bad guys, who he examined while they were shackled with two C.O.s hovering nearby, ready to pounce if the inmate got any sketchy ideas.

In Colorado where I live, Wright writes that many of the major Colorado highways were built by prison labor, as well as the route to the scenic Royal Gorge. He writes that homosexual inmates were forced to wear dresses, even on work detail.

Getting the proper medication for prisoners isn’t always easy. If drug A doesn’t work, a doctor on the outside can prescribe drug B. On the inside, s/he needs permission from administrators, which s/he almost never gets, meaning inmates’ care can become exorbitant when emergency room visits come about. This is especially true for mentally ill inmates, a huge percentage of our prison population.

This was an interesting, enjoyable read.

 

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Book Review: Women’s Fiction

Posted by on Jan 1, 2018 |

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

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Fiction > Women’s Fiction

This is a wonderfully written novel about a young widow. Lauren fell in love with Rory in high school. Despite time apart because of college and because Rory made it to the NHL, his death after enlisting in Afghanistan caused Lauren to essentially forget about her own goals and dreams and hide out in the family beach house year round. She’s been hiding from the media for four years.

She’s had a strained relationship with her older sister, Stephanie, since falling for Rory all those years ago. Their mother, Beth, keeps trying to bring them together, and thinks that by bringing Stephanie and her six-year-old son Ethan to the beach house, they can work through whatever has kept them apart. Beth is facing her own marital and financial crisis.

Documentary film maker Matt Brio has been working on the story of Rory Kincaid since his death, but Matt is running out of money. Nobody wants to fund him if he can’t get the widow to talk on camera. That’s a challenge, since he can’t even find her. When he does, the family secrets that pour out prove ultimately to provide good therapy for the family members who talk.

This story has echoes of pro-football player Pat Tillman turned Army Ranger who was killed by friendly fire. It’s also about the dangers of professional sports and head injuries. Brenner makes writing a novel seem effortless. I really enjoyed this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to review this book, which RELEASES APRIL 24, 2018.

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Book Review: Thriller

Posted by on Jan 1, 2018 |

Origin by Dan Brown

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Thriller > Mystery

I had a lot of fun with Brown’s latest fast-paced thriller. I have not been to Spain and knew virtually nothing about the architecture and royal politics of the region.

This time, Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the fiance of Prince Julian, Ambra Vidal. When Langdon’s former student, inventor and computer scientist and passionate atheist Edmond Kirsch, is murdered just before he can reveal something that he promises will destroy religion as we know it, Langdon and Vidal use Winston, an artificial intelligence device created by Kirsch to try to uncover his secret. Someone doesn’t want them to be able to do that, so they are on the run as known (police officers) and unknown people try to kill them before they can accomplish their goal.

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