Island Practice by Pam Belluck
Cobblestone Rash, Underground Tom, and Other Adventures of a Nantucket Doctor

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Reading “Island Practice” is a bit like watching the N.B.A. on television. The players are enormous, but because the court is so cramped by their largeness, they look somehow diminished.
-NY Times

Synopsis

With a Foreword by Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the bestseller In the Heart of the Sea

If you need an appendectomy, he can do it with a stone scalpel he carved himself. If you have a condition nobody can diagnose—“creeping eruption” perhaps—he can identify what it is, and treat it. A baby with toe-tourniquet syndrome, a human leg that’s washed ashore, a horse with Lyme disease, a narcoleptic falling face-first in the street, a hermit living underground—hardly anything is off-limits for Dr. Timothy J. Lepore.

This is the spirited, true story of a colorful, contrarian doctor on the world-famous island of Nantucket. Thirty miles out to sea, in a strikingly offbeat place known for wealthy summer people but also home to independent-minded, idiosyncratic year-rounders, Lepore holds the life of the island, often quite literally, in his hands. He’s surgeon, medical examiner, football team doctor, tick expert, unofficial psychologist, accidental homicide detective, occasional veterinarian. When crisis strikes, he’s deeply involved.

He’s treated Jimmy Buffett, Chris Matthews, and various Kennedy relatives, but he makes house calls for anyone and lets people pay him nothing—or anything: oatmeal raisin cookies, a weather-beaten .44 Magnum, a picture of a Nepalese shaman.

Lepore can be controversial and contradictory, espousing conservative views while performing abortions and giving patients marijuana cookies. He has unusual hobbies: he’s a gun fanatic, roadkill collector, and concocter of pastimes like knitting dog-hair sweaters.

Ultimately, Island Practice is about a doctor utterly essential to a community at a time when medicine is increasingly money-driven and impersonal. Can he remain a maverick even as a healthcare chain subsumes his hospital? Every community has—or, some would say, needs—a Doctor Lepore, and his island’s drive to retain individuality in a cookie-cutter world is echoed across the country.

 

About Pam Belluck

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Pam Belluck has been a staff writer for the New York Times for more than fifteen years, during which she has written about everything from cattle rustling to embryo adoption, reported from places as diverse as Medellin, Colombia, and Seongham, South Korea. She served for more than a decade as national bureau chief, covering some of the biggest stories for the paper. She is currently a health and medical writer for the Times. She has won several awards, a Knight Fellowship, and a Fulbright Scholarship.
 
Published June 25, 2013 by PublicAffairs. 306 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Professional & Technical, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Benjamin Phelan on Jun 01 2012

Reading “Island Practice” is a bit like watching the N.B.A. on television. The players are enormous, but because the court is so cramped by their largeness, they look somehow diminished.

Read Full Review of Island Practice: Cobblestone ... | See more reviews from NY Times

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