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Duck Blood Soup
by Joseph Molea MD

Category: Fiction / Health
281 pages; ISBN: 0595218431

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Norman Goldman


Joseph Molea’s debut novel Duck Blood Soup is a harrowing exposé portraying substance abuse within the medical profession.

Molea is a medical doctor who is a certified member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is also the Executive Director of a specialized addiction treatment centre for professionals with impairment problems.
Although the book is a work of fiction, nonetheless, a great deal of the information had been gleaned from the author’s personal knowledge of sufferings endured by his own colleagues.

The capstone of Molea’s account centres on a fourth year chief surgical resident, Rocky Van Slyke, with very little money, a hefty pill habit and the hospital’s in house lawyer, Vince Buddy.
Unbeknown to Van Slyke, Buddy had previously been convicted for drug possession.

For four years, Buddy had an influence on every aspect of Van Slyke’s life at the hospital.
Buddy made sure that Van Slyke was first in line to receive promotions, awards, and special recognition.
However, as we all know the saying, “there are no free lunches,” Van Slyke had to reciprocate and pay a huge price.
This meant that whenever Buddy came calling for drugs, Van Slyke made sure they were available.
Unfortunately, Van Slyke also experimented with all kinds of drugs and as he states: “This much is obvious: I stuck needles in my arm and loved the drugs he taught me to use, I loved them more than I loved myself.”

Intermingled with the main plot are vivid images and flash backs to Van Slyke’s sad childhood.
It is unearthed that his mother was unfaithful to his father, who was often away on military duties.
We also learn of the macabre event that cost the life of his mother and his father’s confinement to a wheelchair, to pass the rest of his days living like a vegetable.

Molea tells a good story, however, as is the case of many first time novelists, he falls into the trap of excessively misusing metaphors.
Bizarre or clashing metaphors can make the writing ludicrous.

Sentences such as: “the wind groaned like a lonely old whore,” adds nothing to my impression of the wind and made me wonder how many old whores the author heard groaning.

Another shortcoming of the book is the lack of cohesion between the flashbacks and the principle story.
I was never sure if the use of these flashbacks was to rationalize the behaviour of our main protagonist.

Notwithstanding, my above comments, reading the book was a learning experience and provoked me into pondering how widespread is the problem of drug addiction among physicians and surgeons.


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