Malcharist… warns, educates, inspires.
Malcharist tells stories mirroring the ugliness and craziness of health care
Review by Gary Schwitzer
I don’t read much fiction. Never have. As a journalist for 48 years, my mind and my eyes are focused on learning from history and reflecting on current events.
But I’ve crossed paths with Paul John Scott through the years, so when he wrote to me about his first novel, I told him I’d read it when I found the time. “Fat chance I’ll like it or stay with it to the end,” I thought. And with that less-than-open mind, I cracked the binding on his book, Malcharist.
I’ll be damned if he didn’t blow my socks off. This was one of the rare books in my life that I couldn’t put down. The journalist who is the central character will resonate with many journalists – struggling with their careers and their own personal ethics. The pharma industry themes will be familiar for many in medicine and in science journalism: ghostwriting, Key Opinion Leaders, drug side effects including suicide. But these themes play out in powerful human stories in Scott’s book. Professionals familiar with these themes will feel that they are enlivened and the concerns heightened in Scott’s story-telling. But it is the patient population – everyday health care consumers – who stand to gain the most from reading this book, especially if the reality of these themes is new to them.
It is fiction that captures reality, presenting it in little stories about business decisions, personal decisions, power, money, and deceit. It tells stories mirroring the ugliness and craziness surrounding us every day emanating from some corners of the health care industry. If we only knew how to recognize the signs and symptoms. Malcharist shows us how. It warns, educates, inspires.
Soon after finishing the Malcharist, I told someone, “If this was Scott’s first novel, sign me up for more.” There are countless other health care issues that warrant his literary touch.
Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
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