Tuesday, March 15, 2011

keeping it real

Hey, my book got a nice review from Kirkus!*  Thanks Kirkus! Though it seems the full review won't be available to non-subscribers until the book is actually released, here's a brief excerpt:

An account of medicine, marriage and motherhood, executed with style and enough humor to offset the not-always-happy endings for patients...An upbeat memoir by a woman still imbued with the idealism to serve, but also to be there for her husband and two sons.

I'm especially happy because it seems that the reviewer keyed into the one of the main things I want to get across, which is that I really tried hard to write a first-person medical memoir that was ultimately upbeat, and occasionally irreverent hopefully without tilting towards cynical. Lots of medical non-fiction I've read can either be academic and detached, bitterly humorous, or difficult to read because they're kind of ceaslessly grim. I tried, and hoped I succeeded (though you all can tell me in May, I guess) in writing an account of med school and residency that keeps in mind that I was a human being training in medicine, not that I was a medical trainee that just so happened to be a human being.

Anyway, thanks again to Kirkus for the lovely review!

(P.S. Yes, I know the cover image on the Kirkus site is still the original cover image. We are working on getting it updated to the new hotness.  Thanks!)


  1. Anonymous3:20 PM

    Good to see the positive reviews coming in for your book! :)

  2. I really want to "hate" you. I have tried, believe me... you are smart, cute, have a great sense of humor, from an intact and by all appearances fairly functional family, went to great schools, met a great guy, have absolutely adorable kids, a nice career in medicine, and now a great book (I haven't read it YET, but have no doubts about its quality), which will likely become a bestseller, and you probably have some other impressive qualities which you have not told us about (piano and violin virtuoso, ballroom dancing champion, trapeze artist, award-winning horse-breeder), but you seem so damned nice, you make it totally impossible to hate you.

    Then I find out that Kirkus gave you a good review and I see a glimmer of hope. I think "for sure, this will be the last straw, the much needed boost to start hating her"... Alas, my hopes have been dashed. Half-way through the previous paragraph, I lost my bravado. I have no choice but to keep liking you!

    Congratulations on the good review, now we need May 11th to please hurry up and get here!

  3. Congratulations! It's too bad that your book didn't come out in time to make it into the new Brain,Child's feature on medical mother-writers. I'm sure they would have loved it. And I'd bet good money that this review is just a taste of things to come.

  4. Anonymous9:17 AM

    I have been reading your blog for years, simply because you're an excellent writer. A book was bound to happen. Congratulations and can't wait to read it!

  5. Anonymous9:20 AM


  6. Anonymous10:24 AM

    urrrggghhhh can this blog be anything other than a book-selling device right now? i guess not, but urrrgghhhh how painful to see you become a sell-out.

  7. Argh, I know, and believe me, this is something I struggle with.

    The thing with the book is that it's like one of my kids. I really feel that way. And like the pregnancies and births of my kids, it's something I want to share with everyone. I know it seems a little more commercial because the fact of it is, a book is something that is ultimately bought and sold (unlike my kids...SO FAR) but you have to understand that I am not a writer by profession, I'm a doctor. I have another career that fulfills me and supports my family. My main goal with the book is just like that for my kids. I worked very hard on it, I love it, and now that it's almost out in the world, I want to give it the best start possible so it can go out there and be successful send hopefully have a positive impact on people. I feel like that's my responsibility.

    However, I do know that all the book talk might come off to some as a constant barrage of salesmanship, so I'll turn it back to you guys. What's a good way to do this? Any particularly successful strategies that you've seen online? Would anyone be interested in a Q&A about the book on this blog, or another forum?Look, this is a great community and I am totally open to suggestions. I just want to send my baby out into the world right. Thanks in advance for all the input!

  8. Don't pay any attention to the jealous haters! It's your blog; do as you will with it.

  9. I think it's fine. Seriously. Very few of your posts are book-related, and most of us enjoy reading about the book process anyway, and are excited for you (as the ratio of positive-to-negative comments should show). If there's one thing that can be guaranteed about the internet, it's that someone will hate what you post/do/believe/share, and will make sure to let you know. But the fact that you don't (read: can't) please everyone doesn't mean that you're doing something wrong.

    It's like internet product reviews. Those two people who gave whatever-it-is one star (with a VERY ANGRY ALL-CAPS REVIEW) don't normally prevent you from agreeing with the fifty-three good reviews, right?

    In summary: Don't worry about it. :-)

  10. Constance1:37 PM

    Hey Michelle,

    As another long time reader of your blog (back when it was on Homestead!), I think you've been doing a great job of balancing the book talk with what's going on with your family and work. All your long time readers have been with you through the process from getting a book offer to writing it to seeing the proofs, etc. etc. We're right there on the journey with you and anticipating the day when Amazon delivers it to us! I say keep doing what you're doing on this blog. I trust your judgment in keeping all your blog post topics balanced. I expect that there will be more book related postings on your official MichelleAu blog - I can go to it when I want to.

  11. Constance is absolutely right. What she said!

  12. Anonymous1:54 PM

    Ignore the haters! Publishing FTW!

  13. Anonymous2:07 PM

    Since the blog is about you, write about whatever is on your mind, assuming you want to share it with the world. By your 42nd book, I'm sure the excitement will have worn off. But for now, you (and most of us) are excited about it. Don't worry, you haven't jumped the shark.

  14. I invite everyone to check out the "Stuff I Write About" section on the right side of your screen. When a gigantic "BOOK" starts pushing everything else off the screen, then I will start worrying.

    The book is likely the most extraordinary thing happening in Dr. Au's life at the moment. It is an experience most people will never have. It would be strange if she did NOT write about it.

    (P.S. It appears that I am quickly turning from a nice long-time non-commenting reader into a scary comment stalker. Sorry.)

  15. I agree with everyone else who's said you're doing a good job at maintaining a balance on your blog. Don't pay any attention to the haters.

  16. Anonymous5:52 PM

    Just do what you always do. You've got a very good sense of what is in good taste, and what's not. Trust it.

  17. Anonymous6:23 PM

    I don't mind the book comments; I understand that it's an important thing in your life right now, and I read this blog because I think your life is interesting (I hope that's not too creepy!), and you tell your stories well.

    That said, I think two things make the book comments okay, so please keep them up:
    1. You have lots of non-book posts. That probably means you'll have to do extra posting to balance out the book stories, but that will keep us all extra happy!
    2. The book comments are updates about the process (which in itself is interesting), and not just purely promotional.

    Good luck!

    And! I haven't pre-ordered the book yet because I won't have a house in May (between clerkship and residency), but you can mentally add me to that list anyway; I will buy it!

  18. Anonymous7:30 PM

    I don't think you're talking excessively about the book and I find what you do write about really interesting. It's been fascinating to read about the journey you've gone through with this. And of course, as others have said, this is your blog, you should write about what you want to write about. I really enjoy your blog and I can't wait to read the book.

  19. Anonymous9:43 PM

    "selling out" is a stupid concept anyway.. I would be seriously worried about you if you'd written a book (!!) and barely mentioned it. I read blogs to hear about people experiencing things that I will (likely) never experience.. such as writing a book.. or gassing someone into unconsciousness. :)

    So please, keep telling us about it!

  20. Don't mind the haters. Your blog is a key element in selling your book, and I'm sure you feel an obligation to your agent, editor, and publisher to do everything you can to sell it. If you didn't promote the book on your blog then you would not be living up to your end of the bargain. I'm sure you will realize, and I am, that you can't make everyone happy all the time, no matter how hard you try!
    Congrats on the Kirkus review. We were relieved when we got a positive one as well. I hear they can be brutal.

  21. Jennie7:58 PM

    I happen to find the book process quite interesting- not a sell out at all. Random note: When I pre-ordered, Amazon talked me into "Beyond Expectations" (Peds resident memoir)... The cover of which is almost identical to your original cover. You probably knew that, and your new cover is so much better at representing what you write about... But I found it disarming when the other book arrived- "Hey, that was Michelle's book cover!" :-)