These collected stories from a doctor’s notebook bring together the best writing of Dr. Siegfried Kra, who has published 13 books with W.W. Norton, Warner Books and McGraw Hill, among others. Like the famous Russian literary physician Chekhov, Kra uses storytelling to connect medicine with the human condition, resulting in tales of love and loss, triumph and disillusionment. From post-war France and Switzerland to a modern private cardiology practice and the teaching hospitals at Yale, Kra diagnoses rare diseases, falls in love, and even survives a plane crash on a frozen lake. An exploration of the Golden Age of Medicine coupled with vivid moments of unusual, captivating must read stories.
SIEGFRIED KRA emigrated, with his family, from Danzig, Germany to New York in 1939. He attended CCNY, then went to medical school in France and Switzerland before completing his training at Yale. In his practice as a cardiologist, he has treated tens of thousands of patients. Kra has published over a dozen books, both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to medicine and writing, his passions include opera, growing orchids, and tennis, which he still plays weekly at age eighty-six. He also still teaches as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and Quininipac University Netter School of Medicine.
Kra has been an advocate for people, without prejudice for religion, gender, age, race, religion or politics for his entire medical life. He has been interviewed by CNN, ABC & CBS. For eights years, Kra was on NPR every Thursday from 1982 to 1994, He was on The Regis Show, Religious shows like Club 500, The Smithsonian in Washington and more, including lectures at libraries in NY.
Gripping Article on Kra describing as a boy being possibly patted on the head by Hitler, how he loves medicine, and the shame of Hitler youth, as his charge took him, under the guise of boy scouts, being beaten up by brownshirts, and the fear of them and the gestapo they fled from.
Review: “I enjoy trying a “wild card” book now and then, i.e. by an unlikely author I’ve never heard of. So here’s Dr Siegfried Kra, pushing 90, with this delightful little collection of true stories from his long life and medical practice. Kra came to America in 1938 as a boy when his family fled the Nazis. After working his way through CCNY, he found himself blackballed by U.S. med schools in the 1950s because he’d been marked as an agitator, so he went to Europe to study medicine in France and Switzerland. One of the best and most moving pieces here dates back to his med student days in Switzerland, where he lost his heart to a beautiful young dancer, a tb patient in a sanatorium high in the Swiss Alps (“Gabrielle’s Dance”). Likewise, in “La Femme a la Porte,” he recalls an intense affair he had with a mysterious temptress during his med student year in Toulouse, France in 1952. And the book’s title comes from an odd little anecdotal take about his one-time gardener and his gorgeous companion ( “The Nocturnal Gardener” ). And “Coke on a Hot Day” is NOT about a simple, refreshing soda pop. “I’m Fine” describes his near-death experience with multiple pulmonary blood clots, while “Plane Crash on a Frozen Lake” gives us a chilling account of another close call with death. “Edith” introduces us to a sophisticated octogenarian who fears she has contracted AIDS from one of her many lovers. As a cardiologist, Kra tells us in his Preface – “I take care of people’s hearts so they can go on loving. I can think of no greater privilege.” Judging from his long career, I suspect Siegfried Kra must have been a damn good doctor. And, after reading DANCER IN THE GARDEN, I know he’s a good storyteller too. Kudos to Pleasure Boat Studio publisher for printing this lively collection. Very highly recommended. -TimBazzett | Jul 2, 2020 |
Praise of Prior work:
“Dr. Kra’s own life story, which you’ll glimpse in many of the chapters, is simply put—amazing. When you get done, you’ll probably want to give a copy to your own doctor in the hopes that while being engrossed in these little dramas, they’ll also take away some of Dr. Kra’s insights into what it means to be a healer. A book not to be missed.”
Amazon reader: “I bought my copy of Dr. Kra’s collection of largely autobiographical short stories quite by accident at a library book sale…It’s autobiographical in the sense that the characters include himself as well as some of his more interesting patients (in disguise of course). Dr. Kra is an obviously caring physician who brings his understanding of what medical practice ought to be (and so often is not) to these revealing tales of perplexing symptoms and sometimes harrowing circumstances. Dr. Kra’s own life story, which you’ll glimpse in many of the chapters, is simply put—amazing. When you get done, you’ll probably want to give a copy to your own doctor in the hopes that while being engrossed in these little dramas, they’ll also take away some of Dr. Kra’s insights into what it means to be a healer. A book not to be missed.”
“Bizarre medical cases and diagnostic sleuthing . . . Consistently entertaining.” (THREE-LEGGED STALLION) —Publishers Weekly
“It is hard to put this book down.” —Three-Legged Stallion, Associated Press
A Doctor’s Visit: 3 Novellas and 5 Short Stories:
“Every life is a story. This book will make you more aware of what we all experience in our lifetime.” —Bernie Siegel, M.D., author of Help Me to Heal
“We are gifted with Dr. Kra’s page-turning reminiscences of an extraordinary medical career, in which he generously shares his humanity.” —Sherwin Nuland, M.D., author of How We Die and Lost In America: A Journey with My Father
‘An interesting life that could produce a dozen books worth reading…’