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10 thoughts on “Cutting for Stone

  1. says:

    The world turns on our every action and our every omission whether we know it or notIt is statistically improbable that I will read a book as good as this one anytime soon Although I’ll admit it starts off slowly I found that the depths of this novel are revealed as the protagonist’s life unfolds Something of a bildungsroman Cutting for Stone focuses on a pair of twin boys who are born and raised in an African missionary hospital Their story combines elements of Indian and Ethiopian language and culture third world medicine sexual awakening political revolution foreign travel and of course and easily my favorite emotional and complex family drama Written in a style of prose that allows one to forget the author is even there Verghese really captures what it means to be human—that the frailty of life isn’t distinct from the strength of the spirit but that one complements the other ShivaMarion’s story is about as moving as it gets and I’ve got a few tear stains on my Kindle to prove it

  2. says:

    But it was only now near the end and far too late that the pieces suddenly dreadfully clicked into place Like a long Tetris piece slamming down making a whole block of mystery blink and vanish Only now did he realize what suddenly seemed so obvious everyone who had suggested this book to him – every single one – was a middle aged woman This book it was about the importance of familyA wave of cold horror washed over him It would take months of porn and comic books to counteract this book’s effect Months

  3. says:

    Many readers will tell you that Cutting for Stone is the epic story of two conjoined twins fathered by a brilliant British Surgeon and an Indian Nun And it technically is Narrated by Marion the first born twin we are told of every influence on his and his brother’s existence More than the story being told however the novel is an accurate portrayal of life in all it’s cruelty and wonder The twin’s mother dies in childbirth and their father abandons them minutes later They are raised in a missionary medical hospital in Ethiopia As they grow up they are forced to face their past and futures re defining the meanings of destiny love and family While reading you will notice the fine points are painstakingly researched as the story is and packed full of medical jargon and situations along with vivid descriptions of Ethiopian culture and history My only reservation in recommending the book is the novels “hard moments” as almost every imaginable tragedy touches these brothers and medical operations and oddities are very detailed Sueamish readers may want to skim some of these passagesAll in all this novel is elegantly told superbly structured and the most original piece of fiction I’ve read in years It’s deserving of every positive adjective I can throw at it; marvelous and thrilling You will want to own and lose yourself in this book again and again Buy it now and thank me later

  4. says:

    “My VIP patients often regret so many things on their deathbeds They regret the bitterness they’ll leave in people’s hearts They realize that no money no church service no eulogy no funeral procession no matter how elaborate can remove the legacy of a mean spirit” Cutting for Stone pg 434More than a few people who’ve read the novel mentioned to me that they wanted to discontinue reading the novel And I understood what they meant when I finished reading Cutting for Stone this last weekendI had trouble with the point of view Unlike Frankie in Angela’s Ashes Marion the protagonist is an adult all along and mono tonal Mr Verghese doesn’t give Marion the privilege of his own voice Marion is smothered by adult language betrayed by the medical jargon which is overbearing ultimately as well as weak writing—this last piece was a surprise to me The idiom in some places puts me right in 2011 America when in fact we’re in Ethiopia for most part of the novel—mid 1900’s onward Also an overuse of similes was irritating and kept dragging the writing down but most importantly the reader can’t get to Marion’s soul because weak language confounds the reader Moreover the shifting points of view are shoddy and in fact weaken the intensity of emotion that existed briefly when Dr Thomas Stone is trying to deliver the twins By the way this was the most poignant scene of the novel and then the novel degenerates slowly and painfully for the 100’s of pages to comeProbably the lowest point of the novel is the coincidence you’ll find far too many coincidental meetings and appearances etc of Genet and Marion meeting in the US Marion is set up to be a romantic by the author and had saved his virginity for Genet But then enjoys a grotesue intercourse which involves urine blood and vaginal fluids Marion is so turned on that he goes at it again If I didn’t feel terrible for Genet by then I certainly did at that point I am not sure that Mr Verghese wanted Marion to be narcissistic and sadistic “I grabbed her shoulder and pulled her to me hard I smelled her fever and the scent of blood and sex and urine I came again pg598—but Mr Verghese came pretty close here But the novel had unraveled for me earlier MrVerghese simply has the hardest time developing female characters They play stereotypical roles except for Marion’s mother who had the potential to be very interesting as a developed character but the author again “uses” her as a plot device wish not to reveal how for those who’ve not read the novel yet Hema his adopted mother also has wonderful potential of becoming an interesting character but remains flat throughout The male characters dialogue is a notch better but the dialogue throughout the novel is tiresome and most characters sound like each other There is some good dialogue from Marion’s adopted father Ghosh and Dr Deepak but not enough to save the novelAnd poor Marion remains a prisoner to a very brilliant individual as a novelist in Mr Verghese who tries desperately but fails to develop a nuanced protagonist maybe the reason people wanted to put the novel down I think if the novel was cut into half it may have worked for me given the good writing would have blossomed and caught the attention of the reader Here’s one other passage I liked“ In America my initial impression was that death or the possibility of it always seemed to come as a surprise as if we took it for granted that we were immortal and that death was just an option” Cutting for Stone pg 486

  5. says:

    Recently in San Francisco I attended a reading by Abraham Verghese who has written my favorite book of the year CUTTING FOR STONE I'd gotten it from the library and after 150 pages was so in love with it that when I heard he was going to be at the store I returned the library copy there's a huge line waiting for it and bought a copy just to have the pleasure of his signature We actually had a little chat after the reading while he happened by on his way to his car He asked why I'd chosen his book in the first place and I didn't have the answer which occurred to me like esprit d'escalier until after he'd left it's not the initial choosing of a book but the journey the author takes you on that is important I think that Tom Wolfe's I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS was the book that changed my life because when I was about 50 pages in I realized I couldn't and therefore wouldn't finish that book despite having purchased it in hard cover Life is too short and besides it doesn't honor an author if you are resenting him with every page just to reach the end So I actually don't finish some of the books I open There aren't enough days left in my life to suander on books I'm not enjoying All that being said I wish I'd thought of that when talking with this soft spoken gentle man and had been able to relay to him that the journey he was taking me on was so wonderful I didn't care if I ever reached the destination It is a vibrant living story peopled with individuals to care about sensual writing with than a dash of humor and a frisson of suspense What I did have the chance to tell him was this I was furious with an imbicile in the audience who if you can actually believe this whined Why did you have to make it so long? I told Dr Verghese that it reminded me of that scene in Amadeus when the emperor complains there are too many notes and Mozart puzzled says It has just the right amount of notes

  6. says:

    Breathless is how I’m feeling right now as I close this book Magnificence is in the power of this story and the storytellerI was introduced to Verghese briefly as he wrote a prologue to the exuisitely written memoir When Breath Becomes Air Another of my favouritesYet I was ill prepared for the visceral attack on my senses reading this epic story that takes place in EthiopiaA story of doctors and the lives of becoming one The story of undeniable love for parents who weren’t biological for Siamese brothers separated at birth Just an awe inspiring story of life It’s hardships; it’s gifts It’s cultureIt made me feel alive and exported A respect for the struggles in a 3rd world country Respect for dedication of reaching difficult goals Of accepting unconditional love even when it seems to be against you And forgiveness at its coreA story of brothers fathers And mothersA gift is what this feels like5⭐️

  7. says:

    Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from but where you are wanted? This book is both brilliant and breathtaking I absolutely loved it Abraham Verghese is not only a distinguished physician but an extremely talented writer The prose is some of the very best I have encountered in a novel and the story itself is hugely compelling Verghese takes his time setting up the story and introducing the cast of characters that will be thoroughly developed throughout the course of the novel I gobbled this stuff right up It’s a book about home and belonging – both to your country and to your loved ones Family is defined by those people to whom we feel the greatest connection whether through blood or through the fulfillment of our greatest needs in life including love loyalty and dependability In Addis Ababa near the soaring heights of the Entoto Mountains in Ethiopia Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born to an Indian who is both nun and nurse and a British surgeon working together within the walls of Missing a missionary hospital Literally joined at birth the twins also share a bond of brotherhood and loss that will be both strengthened and painfully tested throughout their lives As the boys grow they also learn the practice of medicine both in its clinical form as well as its very compassionate service to human beings This knowledge is gleaned through the most admirable of characters Hema and Ghosh I loved these two but in particular Ghosh who is possibly one of my favorite literary personalities of all time There is a plethora of medical descriptions here that I found uite fascinating One is not reuired to have a medical related degree to enjoy this book but a curiosity and appreciation for the field of medicine will go a long way here Having worked in clinical research I did not have any difficulties – as long as my handy e dictionary was close by for those terms unfamiliar to me I have to issue a little word of warning here for those that may feel a bit sueamish when presented with some of the graphic details of medicine Although I may have flinched once or twice that didn’t stop me from readingDue to family social ties to some very powerful forces within Ethiopia Marion and Shiva find that they are not exempt from the effects of the political upheaval during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie When catastrophe lands on their own doorstep the twins will learn even about the true meaning of family I found that I learned uite a lot about Ethiopian history and current events and it was all very illuminating I gained a better understanding of the geography of this African country and absorbed some very vivid images like this one I stepped out to the lawn I remember the air that night and how it was so brisk that it could revive the dead The fragrance of eucalyptus stoking a home fire the smell of wet grass of dung fuel of tobacco of swamp air and the perfume of hundreds of roses – this was the scent of Missing No it was the scent of a continent Heartbreaking and uplifting Cutting for Stone is a treasure that I highly recommend Medicine foreign cultures politics coming of age abandonment betrayal and love are all elements woven together to construct a real masterpiece of writing The ending was both poignant and astonishing I loved it The world turns on our every action and our every omission whether we know it or not

  8. says:

    Update I didn't like the writing of this book at all but now after reading the Verghese's foreword to When Breath Becomes Air and being unable to get over the florid and verbose writing of that either and other people agreeing with that I just wonder how so many people enjoyed the very similar writing in this bookI tried to read this book several times but it didn't hold my attention at all I just couldn't get into it I realise that I am in a minority among friends for not swooning over the very brilliance of this book and the writing oh the writing but I didn't swoon I slept

  9. says:

    My favorite parts of this sizable tome were of course the medical jargon and the lyrically gory descriptions of diseases and surgeries I guess by now I have finally and irreversibly crossed that thin line between sanity and medicineYes all the descriptions of diseases and surgeries and the handy medical mneumonics were like music to my ears Really Reading Verghese's Cutting for Stone reminded me of the conversations that I tend to have with my friends in the medical field they inevitably will deteriorate into the full on medical jargon fest And they will become hard and boring to follow for the 'outsiders' And I love it in a strange way Insanity like I saidTell me in what other fiction book can you read about surgery for volvulus vaginal fistula repairs detailed C section and transplant surgery description and medical conditions that are becoming increasingly rare in the US and therefore are fascinating? Where else in fiction do you get a crash review course on different kinds of cardiac murmurs or vesicovaginal fistulae and the history of their repair? Right I thought so Medicine is so seamlessly integrated in the very structure of this novel that it becomes a character in its own right Nicely done Dr Verghese “I'm ashamed of our human capacity to hurt and maim one another to desecrate the body Yet it allows me to see the cabalistic harmony of heart peeking out behind lung of liver and spleen consulting each other under the dome of the diaphragm these things leave me speechless” Oh but I guess you also care about the story and not just about my dithyrambs about the medical jargon? Okay okay Here is the brief synopsis of 600 plus pages “Wasn't that the definition of home? Not where you are from but where you are wanted” Twin boys Shiva and Marion are born in a poor 'Missing' Hospital in Ethiopia to an Indian nun who died in childbirth status post a horrific and vividly described Cesarean section and a socially inept but talented British surgeon who promptly exits the twins' lives mere minutes after their birth having almost crushed their initially conjoined heads Marion is named after Marion Sims the father of American gynecology who in the 19th century pioneered the operation for repair of vesicovaginal fistula the abnormal communication between urethra and vagina with all the unpleasant and horrific conseuences the operation that Shiva performs in this bookMarion Sims' work became a subject of much controversy in the 20th century since he practiced his craft without anesthesia on slave women with unknown consent of his subjects on some of whom he operated about 30 timesThe past of medicine is very often a very scary and cruel placeThe boys are adopted and raised by an eccentric couple of Indian doctors at Missing Hema and Ghosh who in an adorable and sweet way 'renew' their marriage each year We witness them growing up around the hospital learning medicine from a very tender age living through periods of Ethiopian civil unrest and of course girl troubles Genet the tragic girl who always tragically plays the tragic role in the brothers' tragic lives Both brothers decide to pursue medicine self taught Shiva is a gynecologist while Marion view spoilercompletes his surgical residency in the USA and meets his estranged father hide spoiler

  10. says:

    Beautifully written engrossing novel plants you deeply in the passion of practicing medicine winds you intimately into the cloth of Ethiopia Verghese uses language so elegantly and paces his story so perfectly that I was totally transportedI finished the book feeling homesick for Addis Ababa although I have never been thereWhen I signed up in several places to review early editions of books on my blog and in other viral social media places like Facebook I had that little hope that I would be one of the first to discover a great new treasure and then be part of making sure the world knew about itI was sent the uncorrected proof courtesy of an offer from Alfred A Knopf in the daily Shelf Awareness email newsletter Thanks AlThe good news is this early edition of Cutting for Stone is exactly that rare gem I was hoping to findThe slightly less good news is so many high profile reviewers are already raving about it so Verghese probably doesn't need my help in the slightestStill I feel lucky to be one of the first readers It's hard to imagine another book unseating this as my favorite of 2009For me it was right up there with East of EdenNow excuse me while I run out to eat a hearty meal at the one spot in all of Austin serving Injera and veggie Wott

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Cutting for Stone A sweeping emotionally riveting first novel an enthralling family saga of Africa and America doctors and patients exile and homeMarion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution Yet it will be love not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion fresh out of medical school to flee his homeland He makes his way to America finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded overcrowded New York City hospital When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed himAn unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life and an epic story about the power intimacy and curious beauty of the work of healing othersfront flap

  • Hardcover
  • 541 pages
  • Cutting for Stone
  • Abraham Verghese
  • English
  • 14 January 2014
  • 9780375414497

About the Author: Abraham Verghese

Abraham Verghese MD MACP is Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal MedicineBorn of Indian parents who were teachers in Ethiopia he grew up near Addis Ababa and began his medical training there When Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed he completed his training at Madras Medical Co