Sir, – I enjoyed Steve Coronella’s Irishman’s Diary (August 31st) in which he articulated the admiring begrudgery with which aspiring writers must contemplate those whose literary output excels even while they maintain full-time medical careers. I’d dispute his description of Michael Crichton as “the granddaddy of literary MDs”, however.
Perhaps that title might be afforded to Anton Chekhov, who observed that “while medicine is my wife, literature is my mistress”.
Going back further, St Luke might also lay claim to the accolade, a physician who never managed to entirely heal himself of his literary aspirations.
Although his work is still widely read, I should acknowledge that, unlike Atul Gawande, he never actually made Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential list. – Yours etc,
Sir, – When I was in pre-med in UCD in 1977, I was an extra in the largely forgotten film The First Great Train Robbery which was written and directed by Michael Crichton MD, and partly filmed on location in Glencree, Co Wicklow. The film starred Sean Connery, Lesley-Anne Down and Donald Sutherland.
As a few of us waited for the last coach bringing extras back to Dublin at the end of a day’s filming, the director chatted with us. When I asked him why he had swapped his stethoscope for the typewriter and camera, it may interest Steve Coronella to know that Crichton shared his view that doctors should stick to medicine. Crichton, however, had an additional reason.
As we stood in the low-budget mock-up of 19th-century Newgate Prison in drizzling rain, the future bestselling novelist and blockbuster film director wistfully cautioned that the odds were heavily stacked against doctors having any modicum of success doing something they weren’t really cut out to do! – Yours, etc,
Prof CHRIS FITZPATRICK,
Coombe Women & Infants