2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A great collection,
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This review is from: Granta 120: Medicine (Granta: The Magazine of New Writing) (Paperback)
Issue 120 of Granta is entitled "Medicine", although in fact the essays, stories, poems, and photographs in this collection often have more to do with the ways the body or mind can fail rather than the treatment offered. I found almost every single piece in here enjoyable, compelling, and fascinating.
In non-fiction M. J. Hyland writes about her diagnosis and gradual acceptance of MS, a disease she kept hidden from her friends and colleagues for quite some time. Bosnian author Semezdin Mehmedinovic describes his heart attack, and, from the other side, doctor Terrence Holt contributes an essay about 'the perfect code'. This piece has all the excitement of an episode of ER and contains some poignant reflections on modern life-saving medicine. Ike Anya offers a snapshot of life in an impoverished clinic in Northern Nigeria, whilst Linda H. Davis movingly and lovingly describes life with her autistic son, and her fears for the future following her own cancer diagnosis.
In fiction I particularly enjoyed Susan Rivecca's 'Philanthropy', a story about a women's clinic that grabs you with its power and honesty, 'Night' by Alice Munro, and an extract from Rose Tremain's Merivel: A Man of His Time which describes a seventeenth-century operation for breast cancer. Chris Adrian, a doctor himself, gives us a story in the form of a medical lecturer's monologue, which is both blackly funny and increasingly disturbing. 'The Former Mayor's Ancient Daughter' by the Israeli writer Rachel Shihor is a lovely half-page vignette which begins "With us in the nursing home lives the ancient daughter of the former mayor, and every week her old manicurist comes to see her, like an emissary from her previous life." Finally, 'The Third Dumpster' by Gish Jen is an ironic story about two brothers trying to renovate a house into which their elderly Chinese parents can move.
This issue contains poems by Ben Lerner, Angela Carter, Kay Ryan, and James Lasdun, with the latter two being particularly good. Finally the collection includes several beautifully-reproduced vintage photographs from the collection of Brad Feuerhelm, covering a range of subjects from illness, death, and deformity, to photographs of muscle men, sunbathers, and nurses. These photographs are introduced by A. L. Kennedy.