Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book 48 of 52: Face to Face

Today's guest on Fresh Air, the Terry Gross NPR interview show, was Maria Siemionow, the doctor who performed the first face transplant. The interview was fascinating. I would expect her memoir to be the same.

Except I finished Face to Face: My Quest to Perform the First Full Face Transplantthis afternoon, and it was one of the more dull memoirs I've ever read. I hate to seven say it because Siemionow has a fascinating story. She grew up poor in Poland and came to the U.S. to study hand transplant surgery. In December 2008, she did a face transplant on a woman who had been horribly disfigured through domestic violence.

But how dreary and dull and full of cliches. I think she'll best be served by a biography written by someone else. Her story is very flat and one dimensional. Those extra angles need to be added to pain a full picture of a woman who has done something amazing.

Two cover notes: the image is misleading. While the face transplant Siemionow was a vast improvement for her patient, she does not look anything like the woman on the cover. Also, part of the cover verbiage touts about an epilogue that about the actual transplant. It's only three pages.

And for a stand out memoir by a transplant surgeon? Try Pauline Chen's Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality.

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