Corridor O was a suite of rooms in an aging hospital that no longer exists. The novel is a brutal work, in the sense that death from malignant disease is brutal. The book has, however, a mesmerizing yet macabre beauty. The march of cancer cells across the field of a microscope can have the vibrant radiance of a stained glass window. In the beginning of the story, Jack Fleming,M.D. immerses himself in his work as a clinical oncologist. He is able to tolerate the pain and suffering afflicting his patients by keeping intellectual distance from them. But then Dr. Fleming himself develops an illness. During his convalescence, he is forced to confront the reality of what is happening to his patients on Corridor O. Dr. Fleming attempts to find some theological or philosophical justification for the events depicted in this book. Unable to make a leap into faith, Fleming is consumed by the despair he is forced to witness. Corridor O leads to conclusions perhaps difficult to accept. The taste of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil can leave a bitter taste indeed. Jack Fleming was a talented young physician who ventured too far into the darkness. Only the sympathetic reader can decide if his story deserves to be told.
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Published November 30, 2001
Literature & Fiction.