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Book Review: Just Desserts by Lawrence Goldman

July 1, 2005 – Medical doctors and novelists are usually two different personalities. However, St. Thomas is home to one physician who is also a novelist.
If you ever had a colonoscopy, more than likely you have seen Dr. Lawrence Goldman, gastroenterologist at Schneider Regional Medical Center. Dr. Goldman has produced his first book entitled Just Desserts (Author House, 2004), available at Dockside Books in Havensight Mall.
An adventure/comedy of sorts, "Just Desserts" centers on protagonist Dr. Joseph Silverman, a California cardiologist who has an appetite for luxury and the Beverly Hills lifestyle. The book begins with the good doctor preparing to accept a service award from his hospital:
"Joseph tried to imagine what the evening would be like. He saw himself in his tuxedo standing in the grand ballroom of the Bel-Air Hotel. He saw mirrored walls reflecting the subdued light from crystal chandeliers, each hanging upside down like tulips from braided gold chains, and he felt his shoes sink into the deep piled magenta carpeting as he strode amongst his colleagues and Hollywood celebs. As he approached the podium to give his acceptance speech he heard: 'Wake up; look at the new man.'"
From here Dr. Silverman's life begins to change dramatically. Responding to inroads by health maintenance organizations, his hospital begins cutting the frills physicians and staff have been enjoying – free country club memberships, executive dining room privileges, etc. On top of that news, Silverman's bank demands immediate payment on a $60,000 personal loan.
So when Silverman gets a call from a small health clinic in Northern Alabama looking for a cardiologist, he jumps at the offer.
What follows is an entertaining romp in a rural town in Alabama run by an obese, cigar-chomping sheriff with an appetite for younger women. The small Alabama town the doctor works in is populated by people with names like "Collette" and "Birdie," and there is one main restaurant in town called "The Tasty Coffee Shop."
While occasionally suffering from stilted language (using words like "guffaw" repetitively when "laugh" would do), the pace of the story in "Just Desserts" moves briskly. Some of the people Goldman has created are such extreme caricatures that the reader is left laughing and wondering what their next escapades will reveal.
Goldman is good at describing people and places without bogging down the plot, and the book is written from the perspective of a sophisticated Californian who experiences the Deep South for the first time.
If you are looking for a nice diversion from your normal routine, or a good book to pass the time while on a plane flight for the holiday, Just Desserts might just be the kind of book you need.

Editor's note: The reviewer, Michael Burton, is the author of "John Henry Faulk: The Making of a Liberated Mind" (Eakin Press, 1993).

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