Last month I was fortunate enough to attend a talk at FIS by Vincent Lam and it was pretty incredible. I quite enjoyed his book Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures and was very interested in what he had to say about it. I find it pretty amazing that Vincent Lam can be an ER room Doctor and a Giller Prize (2006) winning author. He came across as being very personable, which in my mind makes for a good doctor and also very intelligent and perceptive as well.
He spoke about how the careers of a doctor and writer are quite similar and I had never before thought that through. Doctors must listen to our stories and then piece them together and tell them back to us, trying to make the pieces fit into the puzzle. A good doctor must be a good story teller and that requires knowing how much of the story to feed back and how to tell it in an interesting way to keep our attention. It is no surprise to hear of a writer having a second job, really its just a surprise that a writer would say that their second job is that of a doctor – not that Vincent Lam considers himself secondly as a doctor. From what I gather he holds both in equal esteem in his life and does both when he chooses. I loved the way the stories and characters linked up in the book. They were so real to me by the end of the book.
The book really changed the way that I think of doctors. In fact, parts of the book I found appalling. I don’t think I had ever thought of doctors as real people and I am not really sure why. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s a great piece of Canadian literature and well worth the read.
Now, if only I had an ounce of Vincent Lam’s talent! Ah well, at least I had the honour of him signing my copy of his book.