Book Review: Readings

Pamela Nagami

Readings

Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings

by Pamela Nagami

St. Martin's Press, 352 pp., $24.95 Pamela Nagami can tell you a thing or two about people's faces being hideously disintegrated by bacteria. That's because she's a doctor of internal medicine and infectious diseases with the Southern California Permanante Medical Group, and she's been around, and she's already written two books – Maneater and The Woman With a Worm in Her Head – that document similar insults to living meat and marrow. What she's focusing on now, in Bitten, is the misery and degradation that can result when we run afoul of the teeth and piercing instruments of our cherished wildlife – and of our fellow humans.

From tsetse flies whose bites transmit deadly trypanosomes, to humongous crocodiles whose jaws can chomp a human in half; from the colony of animals called Portuguese man-o'-war, to the people who, for one reason or another, dentally assault other people, this book provides a tasty buffet of incidents and information. Besides relaying her own doctorly experiences, Nagami has researched like a woman possessed (by a book deal, perhaps) and so provides many vivid examples from historical and contemporary medical literature.

This easily parsed volume could, according to the McCormick Method of summation, be alternately titled Look Out: Australia! (Take a closer look at the McCormick method) What you might want to invest in before reading, though, is a tube of Ben-Gay for your neck. Because descriptions of what the bite of just local animals can do to our all-too-human flesh will likely have you looking over your shoulder or compulsively scanning the ground to make sure you don't fall victim to creatures that can fuck you up real bad.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Nadia Waheed:
Nadia Waheed: "Notes From a Windowless Room" at Raw Paw
Explorations of identity by an artist of color, of colors, of many colors

Feb. 22, 2019

Is Austin’s Prohibition Creamery Too Sweet For Booze?
Prohibition Creamery: Too Sweet For Booze?
A whiskey mouth’s pleasurable experience suggests otherwise

Feb. 20, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings, Pamela Nagami, St. Martin's

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle