Susan Cheever observed in a New York Times Book Review appraisal of his memoir Down from Troy that Richard Selzer "cares more about truth than consequences . . . [and] immerses us in the facts we all know but hate to admit." Selzer's Diary picks up roughly where the memoir leaves off, as his writing life flourishes and surgical career ends. Stripped of the doctor-writer's "privilege of [walking] about all day in the middle of a short story," Selzer shifts his focus to his interior life. In Diary, the author's successes and regrets, as well as the humor and sadness that surround him, are revealed with the same empathy and vividness that made him one of the great doctor-writers of modern literature.
Diary brings together stories and observations dashed off on park benches and in library carrels over the past decade. Following the success of such books as Confessions of a Knife and The Doctor Stories, Selzer's diary entries recount life lived in the shadow of both achievement and disappointment. He introduces a varied cast of characters, from the distinguished fellowship of the "Boys Friendly" to his "fellow loonies," and evokes the streets, buildings, and parks of Yale and New Haven with vibrancy and affection. And throughout, Selzer faces the looming specter of old age. The distinctive voice that paved the way for other notable doctor-writers like Jerome Groopman and Abraham Verghese is revealed here to be no less compelling with the spotlight turned on himself and the drama of everyday living.
Richard Selzer is a former surgeon and Yale School of Medicine professor. He is the author of several collections of stories and essays, including Letters to a Young Doctor, and Raising the Dead. He lives in New Haven, CT.