Shapeshifters : On Medicine & Human Change
Description: Our minds and bodies change constantly - we dream and laugh, wax and wane, distort and repair, grow taller and shrink, flourish and decay as we make our way through life. Some of these changes we have little choice about - we can't avoid puberty, the menopause, or even death. Others are specific to the individual, inhabiting that strange hinterland between mind and body, imposed by the savage perfectionism of anorexia or the internal pressures of plastic surgery addicts. And still others are rare, almost magical in their manifestations, such as the sun-sensitivity and facial hair that characterises Porphyria suffers and led to them, once upon a time, to be suspected as werewolves. Mixing case studies with observations about history, art, literature, myth and magic, and viewing with a humane and sensitive eye, Gavin Francis, author of the international bestseller Adventures in Human Being, explores the various ways in which change is the very essence of being human.
Review: Stylish and exhilarating... from a wide-ranging mind and a profound humanity. With warmth and wit, Gavin Francis examines the body's strategies for survival and change, embedding his thoughts in a broad frame of reference from across human culture and history. Each piece is a pleasure to read, and in sum they are inspiring. -- Hilary Mantel A wonderful series of meditations - clinical, anthropological, literary and deeply humane - on his patients and their illnesses. -- Henry Marsh In this provocative and important book about our shared future, Francis ranges broadly to describe altered human states and selves. He delves into medical history, and, with equal ease, into medical case studies, to reveal how humans are capable of changing our bodies and minds. -- Siddhartha Mukherjee Praise for Adventures in Human Being: 'A sober and beautiful book about the landscape of the human body: thought-provoking and eloquent. -- Hilary Mantel So enthralling and so well written that it should win its own clutch of prizes... immensely engaging and often unexpected. His achievement here is to guide readers through his special landscape with such eloquence and subtlety. * Sunday Times * The joy of Mr Francis's work lies in the fact that although he delights in the body's physical reality, he takes care not to reduce human experience to that alone. * Scotsman * I read this book transfixed... The style is crisp and fast and the human tales irresistible. * The Times * Wonderful, written with a deep feeling for language. A writer-physician who sees the drama and beauty in human life. -- Annie Dillard
Author Biography: Gavin Francis is a GP, and the author of True North and Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins, which won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and Costa Prize. He also writes for the Guardian, the Times, London Review of Books and Granta. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and children. Find him on Twitter @gavinfranc www.gavinfrancis.com