“The End of the Alphabet” by C.S. Richardson

This is a gem of a little book – l40 pages – both to read and to
look at.

The author is a prize-winning Canadian book-designer, which means
that every detail, from the charming cover design to the type-face, is
a pleasure to handle. The novel is a love-story, between two suitably
named London artists: Ambrose Zephyr and Zappora (called Zipper)
Ashkenazi , who work in the advertising and fashion businesses
respectively. Their names complete the alphabet, and that is the way
they feel about their relationship – complete.

Their happy existence in a Victorian terrace house near Kensington
Gardens is shattered one day when Ambrose, just turned fifty, goes for a
medical and gets the news he has only one month left to live. In
desperation they set off on an alphabetical trip of Europe:
Amsterdam..Berlin..Chartres… Their adventures are fun,
witty ,offbeat. They get to the Pyramids, then Istanbul , and
suddenly plans change and they turn abruptly for home.

The cover describes the book as a “deeply romantic story about an
everyday life defined by an extraordinary love” -and it is right.

Review by Anne McDougall

“Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures” by Vincent Lam

In case you ever wondered why med students say so little about
what they’re doing, Vincent Lam tells us in this remarkable book,
“Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures”.

He does it without seeming to be telling tales out of school,even
though he studied medicine in Toronto and is now an emergency doctor in
that city.

The book links short stories with the same cast of characters, some
Western,some Chinese. We learn vividly how they practise to become
surgeons. There are realistic sketches of patients in emergency, in
hospital, in police care, on a plane, when pressure and sometimes errors
in judgment prove fatal. There is an underlying sympathy for both
patients and doctors which draws the reader into the predicaments faced
in everyday medicare – predicaments we don’t always understand when all
we read in the daily paper are complaints about waiting lines.

Dr.Lam is a professional (physician) with a second string to his
bow. He writes vividly, and the book moves with breathtaking speed,much
as medicine often does. It is a great Giller prize, as well as great
credit to an expatriate Chinese from Vietnam who has made his home so
totally in Canada.

Review by Anne McDougall