Review: Night Clinic
Dr. Barnes is the only physician at a night clinic in the worst part of town. He regularly treats drug addicts, gang members, prostitutes along with the run of the mill patients. But things have started to change at the night clinic. His patients are no longer run of the mill and he finds himself treating werewolves, vampires, secret agents, and patients with mysterious illnesses. The night clinic is turning into a magnet for the strange, the occult, and the fantastical. For Dr. Barnes, it’s all in a nights work. He must handle this outlandish cast of patients and their bizarre ailments with the same care and diligence he handles all of his patients. And he does it with little more than a sigh and a shrug as werewolves come crashing through the front door, zebras are running around outside, a dragon mysteriously appears in the basement, invisible gay zombies are praying on people, and secret packages show up on his doorstep that attract even weirder characters.
Night Clinic is a collection of short stories revolving around Dr. Barnes and the clinic. Night Clinic is definitely one of the more creative books I’ve read this year. The book is a little corny, but that’s one of its more charming characteristics. I enjoyed some of the tongue-in-cheek references to fantasy characters. Dr. Van Helsing is a psychiatrist that does pro bono work for the clinic. Dr. Barnes refers a vampire to him that is struggling with his identity. The characters from the Wizard of Oz show up and complain about the rewards the great and powerful Oz gave to them. And there’s a satirical look at the Snow White and the seven dwarfs story. They’re all interesting in their approach and theme, but the stories are superficial and the characters are all one dimensional. Night Clinic focuses more on inventing outlandish situations rather than creating in depth character driven stories. Most patients that come into the clinic are melodramatic and have little to no back story. What is told about them is surmised quickly as Dr. Barnes skims over their charts and the rest is given when the characters describe themselves in quick monologues. But all these things fit within the short story format. And really, it’s the view of a person a doctor gets when the only time he spends with them is in the exam room talking about their current illness. The dialogue rarely felt natural and was often flat, especially between Dr. Barnes and his nurse Miss James. I found it odd that the stories were creative and inspired yet the dialogue wasn’t. But if you appreciate a good medical story with lots of medical jargon then this story would be great for you. The author, David Gelber, is an actual doctor and you certainly get the feel that his character, Dr. Barnes, knows what he’s talking about as far as disorders go. The different stories are very creative if a little silly and I found myself wondering what the next crazy/weird patient would be, what curious ailment they would have and what shenanigans they would drag in along with them.
Get more info on David Gelber and his exploits at http://www.davidgelber.com/