Friday, July 27, 2012

Cutting for Stone - Final Discussion

Welp, that was a loooooooong book! ;) I'm glad I read it though.  It had it's slow moments but it definitely picked up.  I loved the story.  I could totally picture Marion in the U.S. doing his residency.  And man, was Genet bad news bears or what? Very nice story.

There was a bit of description that I skimped over.  I'm not big on descriptions and some of the med stuff bored me, but the overall story intrigued me.

1.Did you like the book? Why or why not?

2. Abraham Verghese has said that his ambition in writing Cutting for Stone was to “tell a great story, an old-fashioned, truth-telling story.” In what ways is Cutting for Stone an old-fashioned story-and what does it share with the great novels of the nineteenth century? What essential human truths does it convey?

3. Marion observes that in Ethiopia, patients assume that all illnesses are fatal and that death is expected, but in America, news of having a fatal illness “always seemed to come as a surprise, as if we took it for granted that we were immortal” (p. 396). What other important differences does Cutting for Stone reveal about the way illness is viewed and treated in Ethiopia and in the United States? To what extent are these differences reflected in the split between poor hospitals, like the one in the Bronx where Marion works, and rich hospitals like the one in Boston where his father works?

4. In the novel, Thomas Stone asks, “What treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?” The correct answer is “Words of comfort.” How does this moment encapsulate the book's surprising take on medicine? Have your experiences with doctors and hospitals held this to be true? Why or why not? What does Cutting for Stone tell us about the roles of compassion, faith, and hope in medicine?

5. To what extent does the story of Thomas Stone's childhood soften Marion's judgment of him? How does Thomas's suffering as a child, the illness of his parents, and his own illness help to explain why he abandons Shiva and Marion at their birth? How should Thomas finally be judged?

6. If you were Marion at the end of book, would you stay in Ethiopia or go back to the US? Or somewhere else?  Why?

Any other thoughts on the book?

Thanks for participating! Hope to see you back in August!

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