Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

“Screw your courage to the sticking place.” – Ghosh to Marion

Remarkable, visual and instructive

There are a few books that transcend stories and become a part of your instructions for life. For me, East of Eden is one. Another is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance. Also, The Days are Just Packed with Calvin and Hobbes or Winnie the Pooh have the same effect on me. Aspiration towards a perfect and principled world. It can be more difficult, but then more impressive, to carry this from the relative constraints of the childhood (imaginary friends, make believe, inherent humour, protection by parents, buckets of free time etc) into relatively infinite and independent adulthood but that is exactly what Abraham does with Marion.

Starting at the end of the book and following from the previous paragraph, Marion ends up in New York and, without spoiling it, carries many of the values that he learned in a cosseted bubble in Ethiopia into his adult life.I say cosseted bubble but in fact many outrageous and dangerous events happen in Marion’s life but, in the context of the book as instructive to my life, he is never unprotected until the death of a major character. He lives on a hospital compound in Addis Ababa and sees everything that life has at its most basic –  pain, suffering, religion, death, prostitution, violence, war, terror, dictatorship, poverty, hunger etc etc. But because of who he is, he thrives.

“A boy is never a man until his father dies, he is always a son”

Abraham Verghese – author of principles

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