A History of the Present Illness by Louise Aronson
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley
This book of short stories takes readers through many different aspects of the healthcare and medical situation in the US today, focusing specifically on the San Francisco area. The subjects in Aronson’s stories are fictional, but their stories are based on personal experience and things she witnessed while working in the healthcare profession for years.
What I enjoyed about A History of the Present Illness is that the stories, while told about vastly different kinds of people, different medical issues, and told from widely different points of view, they somehow all fit together. This is a cohesive collection with a clear theme, and Aronson has a definite voice as she’s telling each story. And the writing is really good, so good that a few of these stories I wanted to keep reading based on the writing alone. I was fully invested in almost all of these stories and excited to see what the next one would bring upon finishing each of them.
What I didn’t like, and I think this is my problem, is that I didn’t LOVE each one of these stories, which makes it difficult for me to endorse the entire book. I think I need to take a break from short story collections, to be honest, but I say this knowing full well I’ll be reading this in the very near future. What can sometimes happen to me when reading short story collections is that the stories can sort of run together after a while. So maybe I need to read them more slowly? Take breaks between them? I’m not sure.
But whatever, this is still a really great collection! Aronson manages to create characters that seem real and true in very short periods of time. If you like short stories, or have an interest in the medical field, or just like great writing, I can recommend A History of the Present Illness.