A History of the Present Illness by Louise Aronson

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Synopsis

Sixteen “lovely, nuanced” (The New York Times) linked stories from a potent new voice—a doctor with an M.D. from Harvard and an M.F.A. in fiction.

A History of the Present Illness takes readers into overlooked lives in the neighborhoods, hospitals, and nursing homes of San Francisco, offering a deeply humane and incisive portrait of health and illness in America today. An elderly Chinese immigrant sacrifices his demented wife’s well-being to his son’s authority. A busy Latina physician’s eldest daughter’s need for more attention has disastrous consequences. A young veteran’s injuries become a metaphor for the rest of his life. A gay doctor learns very different lessons about family from his life and his work. And a psychiatrist who advocates for the underserved may herself be crazy. Together, these honest and compassionate stories introduce a striking new literary voice and provide a view of what it means to be a doctor and a patient unlike anything we’ve read before.

In the tradition of Oliver Sacks and Abraham Verghese, Aronson’s writing is based on personal experience and addresses topics of current social relevance. Masterfully told, A History of the Present Illness explores the role of stories in medicine and creates a world pulsating with life, speaking truths about what makes us human.
 

About Louise Aronson

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Louise Aronson has an MFA from Warren Wilson College and an MD from Harvard. She has received the Sonora Review prize, the New Millennium short fiction award, and three Pushcart nominations. Her fiction has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review and the Literary Review, among other publications. She is an associate professor of medicine at UCSF, where she cares for older patients and directs the Northern California Geriatrics Education Center and UCSF Medical Humanities. She lives in San Francisco.
 
Published January 22, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA. 289 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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First-time author Aronson calls on her experience as a professor of medicine for this collection of short stories, which take place in and around a San Francisco hospital.

Sep 30 2012 | Read Full Review of A History of the Present Illness

Washington Independent Review of Books

The history of the present illness (or HPI) is the part of a consultation note that details what a patient says about his or her problem, wherein the physician outlines what triggers a patient’s pains, how frequent, intense and severe his or her suffering is, and what exacerbates or alleviates th...

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City Book Review

“Since this happened during my first night in the hospital, I really appreciated that my intern took the time to introduce me to such an important diagnosis, even if we didn’t also have time to discuss who the man was, or how he died, or why he was lying alone and dead in the radiology hallway i...

Feb 15 2013 | Read Full Review of A History of the Present Illness

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