This absorbing and poignant book is not merely the story of one writer’s flawed heart. It is a history of cardiac medicine, a candid personal journey, and a profound reflection on mortality.
Born in 1966 with a congenital heart defect known as the tetralogy of Fallot, Gabriel Brownstein entered the world just as doctors were learning to operate on conditions like his. He received a life-saving surgery at five years old, and since then has ridden wave after wave of medical innovation, a series of interventions that have kept his heart beating.
The Open Heart Club is both a memoir of a life on the edge of medicine’s reach and a history of the remarkable people who have made such a life possible. It begins with the visionary anatomists of the seventeenth century, tells the stories of the doctors (all women) who invented pediatric cardiology, and includes the lives of patients and physicians struggling to understand the complexities of the human heart. The Open Heart Club is a riveting work of compassionate storytelling, a journey into the dark hinterlands between sickness and health lit by bright moments of humor and inspiration.
Gabriel Brownstein has published a novel, The Man from Beyond, and a book of stories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W. For his short fiction, he has won a PEN/Hemingway Award and a Pushcart Prize. He teaches at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.