Saturday, October 31
Book Reviews: The Good Doctor
Author: Damon Galgut
Summary: A taut, intense tale of the dashed hopes of the post-apartheid era and the small betrayals that doom a friendship, The Good Doctor is an extraordinary parable of the corruption of the flesh and spirit. It assures Damon Galgut's place as a major international talent. When Laurence Waters arrives at his new post at a deserted rural hospital, staff physician Frank Eloff is instantly suspicious. Laurence is everything Frank is not - young, optimistic, and full of big ideas. The whole town is beset with new arrivals and the return of old faces. Frank reestablishes a liaison with a woman, one which will have unexpected consequences. A self-made dictator from apartheid days is rumored to be active in cross-border smuggling and a group of soldiers has moved in to track him, led by a man from Frank's own dark past. Laurence sees only possibilities - but in a world where the past is demanding restitution from the present, his ill-starred idealism cannot last
My Rating: 4/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: The book had an interesting premise, so when I accidentally came across it in the library I thought I’d give it a try. I started it and gave up for a while, before restarting it and then reading it during the read-a-thon. And I ended up really disliking it. First of all not what I’d expected, I thought it would be more of an out look on doctors helping in an African community after a tyrant down fall. Instead I got a self loathing Doctor in an empty hospital full of people who don’t care about anything or anyone and especially don’t care that they’re aren’t actually helping anyone.
The a new doctor appears and he actually wants to help people, and people look at him as if he’s insane. He wants to make a difference, and people look at him if he’s insane, doubt him and tell him to give up and not bother, because hey who cares if you help immunize one community, or help a small group of people, it won’t save the world, so lets not bother, instead lets sit on our ass and complain about how no one is a good person, no one can make a different, and bitch about a cheating wife who years ago left the one doctor for his friend.
That sums up about three quarters of the story. The other quarter contains a love affair between self loathing doctor and a local native with abusive husband who’s part of a rebel group who dislike the government, a town slowly filling up with soldiers who got word about rebel group but do little to do anything about it, instead they all just hang out in a bar. Score one for them! The there’s the thief in the hospital who works there and is part of the rebel group (gee didn’t see that coming) but he has had a hard life, so it’s okat according to the head of the almost empty hospital who is limited on resources to start with and any patient in need of actual care has to be transported hours in a make shift ambulance just to receive care, but because the ass hat who is stealing has had a hard life in the past, it’s okay for him to take advantage of the hospital meant for those who can’t get to the real hospital. Have I lost you yet?
Good doctor finally is able to convince the idiots at the hospital who rather sit on their asses all day and drown in self pity, hatred and loathing (and complain all the supplies keep going missing, yet they know who is doing it, but won’t actually do anything to prevent it because what does it matter, no one cares! SIGH!) Okay so the good doctors starts with community visits to talk about health related stuff, offers some medical check ups and he actually does something, but that lasts for maybe three pages, because instead we need to hear the narrator whine and bitch about why in the world would any one (referring to the good doctor) would want to do that. The ending also sucked because it basically went in full circle back to the beginning. Nothing was accomplished, nothing happened, no lessons learned. Nothing. AGH!
Would I recommend it to read: No, no I wouldn’t, I kept reading the book in hopes it would get better it didn’t. This is one of the books where you hope some freak hurricane takes them all out and ends the story. All the story is, is this doctor who hates him self so much, he doesn’t understand why others around him aren’t the same way, or why someone might want to help out in a community. (Why a doctor, who doesn’t give a rats ass about helping, ends up in an African village hospital is part of his “deep character” as he does it to escape a “Dark” past. But the dark past isn’t anything worth while for him to need to escape.)
What to read next: I'm not sure I really didn't like the book much, so it's hard to pinpoint what would be good to read next. There's a book on my shelf that may be a good choice to read after this, The Piano Turner but I'm not sure how close the two would be related, but haven't read it yet.
Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 999 Challenge, Fall into Reading Challenge