Carrying the Black Bag – My Review

Carrying the Black Bag

By Tom Hutton, M.D.

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Note: This review was published in West Texas Historical Review, Volume 93, 2017.

 

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My

 

“After all, I’d been lucky enough to avoid a sneak thief due to a very loyal, if not terribly bright Dalmation. Surely, good luck, along with the incorrigble Dice, must have been riding shotgun with me.”

Carrying the Black Bag is an eclectic and insightful collection of stories from the author’s time spent working as a neurologist in both Texas and Minnesota. The stories reveal an inside look about Hutton’s work as a doctor in both states. He shares the most important stories of his career with compassion, empathy, and humor.

In this well-written book, Hutton recalls the complexity of some of his most remarkable cases from the emotional toil to saving a young girl with Reye’s Syndrome to how he wound up playing detective on uncovering why a man was poisoning himself with arsenic. In one of the chapters, the author shares the humorous travel episode of him and Dice, the family’s dog as they traveled to Lubbock, Texas.

The symbolism of his black medical bag is interwoven throughout the book. Readers find out medical tidbits along the way like on the meaning of the lengths of medical coats.

Carrying the Black Bag should be a must read for all medical students. Why? Because Hutton gives readers glimpses in his memoir of his take on being in the medical profession to revealing that listening to patients is often more important than just treating an illness.

 

 

Carrying the Black Bag. A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales. By Tom Hutton, M.D. (Texas Tech University Press, 2015. Pp. vi – 250. Prologue, index, afterword, illustrations, photos. $27.95 Hardback.)

The El Paso Red Flame Gas Station and Other Stories – My Review

 
THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION 
AND OTHER STORIES
by
J. REEDER ARCHULETA
Genre: Fiction /Short Stories / Coming of Age
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC
Date of Publication: December 8, 2017
Number of Pages: 132

Scroll down for the giveaway!

  

These short stories are about coming of age in rural far West Texas.  The stories are about the people who have come to stay in a remote part of Texas with a climate that can be harsh and unpredictable and that is demanding and unforgiving.  The stories are told through the eyes of Josh, a young boy, who finds himself alone in a small farm and ranch community and who realizes that he will have to make his own way in this place.  Along the way he meets a group of characters with different takes on life.  Some try to help shield him from the chaos of the world, some try to add more chaos. But all of them, in their own distinct way, through jobs, advice, or actions, play a part in his life.




PRAISE FOR THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION:
“Punchy, plainspoken dialogue…colorful and charismatic characters…The result is an atmospheric Texas…reminiscent of Larry McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The universality of Josh’s journey gives it a timeless quality…a rich tapestry…The stories are conveyed in lean, elegant prose reminiscent of Annie Proulx and Cormac McCarthy” — Blue Ink Review
“Archuleta’s collection offers poignant and hopeful stories of determination in the face of need. Thoroughly engaging…narrated with passion and eloquence…” — The Clarion Review 
                     
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review

“The cottonwood trees that stood between the high school building and the football field still held onto most of their leaves but they had begun to take on that dry brittle appearance which along with the dormant Bermuda grass and a chilled breeze out of the north signaled the start of winter in west Texas.”

Reeder Archuleta’s book The El Paso Red Flame Gas Station and Other Stories is a small book of 122 pages and is one of the most readable books I’ve encountered in a while. Archuleta transports readers ever so fleetingly in this small book into the coming of age character, Josh.

Each little story in this well-written and engaging book reveals ever so slightly the life of Josh in a small West Texas town not far from El Paso. From Josh being taken away from his father as a young boy, to being abandoned by his mother just what seems mere months later – Josh lives his life the best way he can given his circumstances.

Archuleta blends the story well with other characters in Josh’s life that you get a good succinct background on each one without much verboseness. Especially on Roble, the girl that fell in love with Josh.

You can clearly tell Archuleta grew up in West Texas from the short, vivid descriptions of the often-harsh landscape that many of us currently call home. The above selection from the book is a perfect example of how I can tell winter is near.

If you love short stories, especially ones based in Texas that can quickly transport you from your world – then Archuleta’s book should be on your reading list.

The author was raised in far West Texas and five generations of his family are in their final resting place there.  His
great-grandfather is buried in Concordia Cemetery in El Paso within spitting distance of the grave of John Wesley Hardin.
Website ║       ║ Amazon Author Page 
 ————————————-

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
READ & SIP! TWO WINNERS EACH WIN A SIGNED COPY OF
THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION +
A $5 STARBUCKS GIFT CARD
APRIL 17-26, 2018
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