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9780385337380

House of God The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital
House of God The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital
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  • ISBN-13: 9780385337380
  • ISBN: 0385337388
  • Publication Date:
  • Publisher: Bantam Dell Pub Group

AUTHOR

SUMMARY

1 Except for her sunglasses, Berry is naked. Even now, on vacation in France with my internship year barely warm in its grave, I can't see her bodily imperfections. I love her breasts, the way they change when she lies flat, on her stomach, on her back, and then when she stands, and walks. And dances. Oh, how I love her breasts when she dances. Cooper's ligaments suspend the breasts. Cooper's Droopers, if they stretch. And her pubis, symphasis pubis, the bone under the skin being the real force shaping her Mound of Venus. She has sparse black hair. In the sun, she sweats, the glisten making her tan more erotic. In spite of my medical eyes, in spite of having just spent a year among diseased bodies, it is all I can do to sit calmly and record. The day feels smooth, warm, pebbled with the nostalgia of a sigh. It is so still that a match flame stands upright, invisible in the clear hot air. The green of the grass, the lime-white walls of our rented farm-house, the orange stucco roof edging the August blue sky--it is all too perfect for this world. There is no need to think. There is time for all things. There is no result, there is only process. Berry is trying to teach me to love as once I did love, before the deadening by the year. I struggle to rest and cannot. Like a missile my mind homes to my hospital, the House of God, and I think of how I and the other interns handled sex. Without love, amidst the gomers and the old ones dying and the dying young, we had savaged the women of the House. From the most tender nursing-school novitiate through the hard-eyed head nurses of the Emergency Room, and even, in pidgin Spanish, to the bangled and whistling Hispanic ones in Housekeeping and Maintenance--we had savaged them for our needs. I think back to the Runt, who had moved from two-dimensional magazine sex into a spine-tingling sexual adventure with a voracious nurse named Angel--Angel, who never ever did, the whole long year, to anyone's knowledge, string together a complete sentence made of real words. And I know now that the sex in the House of God had been sad and sick and cynical and sick, for like all our doings in the House, it had been done without love, for all of us had become deaf to the murmurs of love. "Come back, Roy. Don't drift off there, now." Berry. Finishing our lunch, we are almost to the hearts of our artichokes. They grow to enormous size in this part of France. I had trimmed and boiled the artichokes, and Berry had made the vinaigrette. The food here is exquisite. Often we eat in the sun-dappled garden of our restaurant, under the lattice of branches. The starched white linen, delicate crystal, and fresh red rose in the silver vase are almost too perfect for this life. In the corner, our waiter attends, napkin over his arm. His hand trembles. He suffers from a senile tremor, the tremor of a gomer, of all the gomers of the year. As I come to the last leaves of the artichoke, their purple surpassing their edible green, and throw them toward the garbage heap for the farmer's chickens and glass-eyed gomer of a dog, I think about a gomer eating an artichoke. Impossible, unless it were pureed and squirted down the feeding tube. I remove the thistly hairs, green abundant, covering the mound of choke, and come to the heart, and I think back to eating in the House of God, and to the one best at eating, best at medicine, my resident, the Fat Man. The Fat Man shoveling onions and Hebrew National hot dogs and raspberry ice cream into his mouth all at once at the ten-o'clock supper. The Fat Man, with his LAWS OF THE HOUSE and his approach to medicine that at first I thought was sick but that gradually I learned to be the way it was. I see us--hot, sweaty, Iwo Jima-heroic--hovered over a gomer: "They're hurting us," the Fat Man would say. "They've got me on my knees," I'd reply. "I'd commit suicide, but I don't want to make the bastaShem, Samuel is the author of 'House of God The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital', published 2003 under ISBN 9780385337380 and ISBN 0385337388.

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