A History of Present Illness A Novel
A young doctor steps into a hospital on her first day as a medical resident. So begins this powerful debut which follows our unnamed narrator through a surgical rotation, anatomy, a bout of depression, and the start of a relationship with a seminarian. As she works her way from one hospital room to another, from a man suffering from tuberculosis to a young woman slowly losing the ability to formulate sentences, she uncovers not only the deterioration of those around her, but truths she has kept hidden from herself until now. The long hours and grueling schedule, intentionally designed to push students to their limits, start to blur the lines of her professional life as her own wounds—a haunting childhood, a series of stepfathers, a bingeing mother—gradually resurface. In brilliant, often darkly funny prose, A History of Present Illness is an exorcism of the heavy strain placed on those who choose to commit to this difficult career and asks us to mediate on what it means to truly be alive.