Sunday, February 20, 2011
The Brothers Amidon Book Tour Review.
Third Place Books 2-17-11
Buy the book here
The short version: Two brothers, writer and a cardiologist, combine their talent and diverse background to produce a wonderful book reading. It is must read for anyone who has had cardiac issues and desires to understand more about the “mysterious organ.”
It’s not hard to imagine what Steven and Tom Amidon were like in college. They must have arrived on campus, shook hands good luck and went into separate buildings. Tom went to the science department eventually becoming a respected Cardiologist, while Steven found his way to the Liberal Arts side to become a renowned writer, novelist and critic. It is only now that the brothers Amidon have combined their specific discipline to produce “The Sublime Engine”
There have been other books telling the story of the pioneers of Cardiology and methods brought about to the modern medical treatments. Mankind has come a long way since Hippocrates.
This book, however, is a noble attempt to explain the “mystery organ,” and how its power has shaped the views of Western Civilization. From the Greeks, to the Catholic Church, to the romantic poets of the 19th century the heart has held a special meaning for various civilizations. It has also created some wild but true tales of modern medicine and the treatment of heart disease.
As an occasional speaker on medical issues, Dr. Tom Amidon is often sought because of his unique talent to remove the mystery and confusion out of medical studies. He can breaks down a complex drug studies or medical situations into a non-threatening simple base that can be understood by people who have never opened an anatomy textbook.
As a man of letters, Stephen Amidon comes across with that same common man approach to his craft. He speaks of his craft with enthusiasm but without the stereotypical haute pretension of a writer with his experience. He is that approachable and open type that truly believes Chekhov, Melville, or even Proust belong in the hands of the common people; not just the Bourgeoisie.
The reading takes place at the Ravenna Third Place Books which is a challenge. (See the blog entry Ode to Third Place Books Ravenna)It’s a respectable crowd for the small space. On stage it is not hard to guess who is the writer, (Stephen wearing a casual sports jacket and sweater) and who is the Physician (Tom, black suite crisp white shirt, and a tie)
They are funny in a dry way. Stephen markets the book. “For small medical co-pay to my brother Tom of only 24.99, I’ll throw in a free book.” Brilliant!
Stephen begins by reading the story of the poet Percy Shelly’s sudden death in Italy. Italian authorizes ordered his body burned and a funeral pyre was constructed. Afterward, officials removed the remains for burial only to discover the poet’s heart still intact, untouched by the fire’s heat.
Stephen reading is remarkable as every single distraction takes place in the store. His voice is steady, enthusiastic and unwavering as he marches through the tale of poor Shelly. He is pleasant and practiced and short. There are plans for more reading later but the brothers never read again. The event has now turned into a press conference as the audience takes over, peppering the brothers with more questions than Charlie Sheen’s publicist while Tom and Steve skillfully weave the book’s theme into their answers.
Dr. Tom Amidon opens about the mechanics of the heart leading to more questions about diet, medicine, and pacemakers. Stephen addresses the theme which he describes as “a book of imagination and how the heart has been sculpted.” This leads to so many audience questions that the event went over an hour.
Random store shoppers stop, listen, and more copies were purchased.
When asked about antidotes left out of the book, the brothers entertain the crowd with some jaw dropping tales about War time surgeons and accidental cardiology discoveries.
Dr. Amidon tells the audience tale of a naive man who opened up an entire field of corporate medical research. When the nameless man’s father collapsed from a heart attack; the man used a toilet plunger to perform CPR and miraculously saved his dad’s life. (Not recommended by the way)
This is one of many tales that didn’t make the book, but serves as a clear example of why people should attend live readings by authors. Reality television can’t get any more real than this but if then again who would believe it.