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Book review: Granta 120: Medicine. Edited by John Freeman

Granta 120, is certainly not a ‘must-read’ book for GPs, but it provides an interesting diversion from a standard medical text.  For anyone with an enjoyment of the more arty side of life however, this anthology of stories, memoirs, poems and art has a medical angle to it that is both thought-provoking and intriguing.

Highlights include a harrowing portrait of MJ Hyland’s diagnosis with MS that gives a terrifying yet inspiring insight into her journey with this condition, and a moving, compassionate story by Linda H. Davis about a young man with autism (Randy and Mummy at The Drawbridge).  Brad Feuerhelm’s collection of photographs demands attention, boldly depicting a hirsute boy, elastic-limbed girls, skeletons and scarred bodies.

In ‘My Heart’, Semezdin Mehmedinovic describes experiencing and recovering from a heart attack aged 50 and Rose Tremain’s extract from ‘Merivel’ graphically narrates a historic excision of a breast cancer – done under only partial anaesthesia in the patient’s home!

A quote from Ike Anya’s reflection on providing a medical service in Nigeria says it all really: “You must always keep an open mind, in this business.  Always be ready to be challenged.”

As the press release for this edition of Granta said: ‘Sometimes the best medicine is a story itself’.  Enjoy.


Dr Natalie Smith is a GP Registrar (ST3) at The Manor Surgery in Headington, Oxford