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The Tennis Partner (edition 1999)
by Abraham Verghese (Author)
The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060931132, Paperback)What is it about sports that makes some men wax as mystical as a Castanedan Yaqui? In the hands of writers such as David James Duncan and Norman Maclean, the simple, repetitive motions of baseball, fly-fishing, and golf have acquired almost numinous significance. In The Tennis Partner, Dr. Abraham Verghese takes on his own fascination with tennis and comes up with as good an explanation as any: "In the way we controlled the movement of a yellow ball in space, we were imposing order on a world that was fickle and capricious. Each ball that we put into play, for as long as it went back and forth between us, felt like a charm to be added to a necklace full of spells, talismans, and fetishes, which one day add up to an Aaron's rod, an Aladdin's lamp, a magic carpet. Each time we played, this feeling of restoring order, of mastery, was awakened."
For both Verghese and his tennis partner, a fourth-year medical student named David Smith, the game is a much-needed island of order in the midst of personal chaos. Both men are struggling to rebuild their lives, Verghese undergoing a painful divorce, Smith struggling with an intravenous cocaine addiction. For a brief, idyllic period, their friendship flourishes; Verghese mentors Smith in the examining room, while Smith, an Australian who competed briefly on the pro circuit, ends up Verghese's teacher on the court. But there are dark corners to David's personality, and under the mounting pressures of medical school and his increasingly complicated love life, these come to the fore. Even as he learns how to inhabit his new life, Verghese watches with horror as his friend relapses, dries out, then relapses again. The author of the powerful My Own Country, a chronicle of caring for AIDS patients in rural Tennessee, Verghese once again proves that the skills of a good doctor are strikingly similar to those of a good writer. Careful observation, compassion, restraint: these are the instruments Verghese uses to stunning effect in The Tennis Partner. A paean to the healing powers of tennis, this book is also a moving meditation on friendship, fatherhood, love, addiction, and the particular loneliness of physicians. --Mary Park
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:21 -0400)
When Abraham Verghese, a physician whose marriage is unraveling, relocates to El Paso, Texas, he hopes to make a fresh start as a staff member at the county hospital. There he meets David Smith, a medical student recovering from drug addiction, and the two men begin a tennis ritual that allows them to shed their inhibitions and find security in the sport they love and with each other. This friendship between doctor and intern grows increasingly rich and complex, more intimate than two men usually allow. And just when it seems nothing more can go wrong, the dark beast from David's past emerges once again. As David spirals out of control, almost everything Verghese has come to trust and believe in is threatened. Compassionate and moving, this is an illuminating story of how men live, and how they survive.--From publisher description.
(summary from another edition)
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