Wardlife: The apprenticeship of a young writer as a hospital clerk

Andrew Steinmetz

"Steinmetz...[has] the perception and imagination of a good writer, or a poet, really...Spinal-fluid-clear metaphors...This neat and well-constructed book can be read in one uninterrupted evening, or, over several delightful, before-sleep reads. Andrew Steinmetz, by the writing of this book has done all healthcare professionals a kindness. He has given us a polished mirror, one that shows more than our faces." -John L. Wright, MD, Medical Ethics, Vol. 9 No. 1

"Reading Wardlife allows a glimpse of how the hospital might appear to a mind prepared for the experience by Wallace Stevens and Michael Ondaatje, instead of Harrison's textbook. Scenes cleave along undetected fault lines; implausible categories emerge from the spaces between objects; accents fall on unlikely syllables. [.] Steinmetz's sketches tacitly point out that there are things about the hospital that the doctors can't see, things that training renders invisible." -David Kent, MD, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 286 No. 1

"[Steinmetz] has been a rock musician, a librarian, a hospital clerk - an ordinary Joe, watching ordinary people die - but with this, his first book, he emerges most definitely as a talented young writer." -McGill News Alumni Quarterly

"This book makes me, as a physician, both proud and ashamed of what I do. Buy it and read it. Give copies to your physician friends. You will laugh, cry and sometimes curse, but you'll be all the better for it." -John Stewart, M.D., Canadian Medical Association Journal

"A remarkable first book... The writing is cool and clear. The picture of hospital life for doctors, nurses and patients is absolutely compelling." -Ian Brown, CBC This Morning - Sunday Edition"

[Steinmetz's] observations are sharp, sympathetic and oddly comforting, and he knows his way around a metaphor [...] This is prose poetry from a correspondent on the hospital front." -Wayne Janes, Toronto Sun

"He's an astute observer who doesn't miss much: the feel of instruments, the tone of a "locating girl's" voice calling a code blue, the oddly triumphant grieving of a family watching and singing at a dying father's bedside, the complicated roilings of various hospital subcultures. He knows how medicine can drain our humanity... He's eloquently subtle too, in seeking a balance between medicalizing the personal and personalizing the medical... Steinmetz has the writer's pitiless eye and worrying heart. Expect more good things from him." -Martin Levin, The Globe & Mail

"I wish I could have written this... I've never read something quite like Wardlife." -Carmine Starnino, Montreal Gazette