Riding a Crocodile

Riding a Crocodile

Riding a Crocodile: A Physician’s Tale

by Paul Komesaroff

UWA Publishing, $26.99 pb, 357 pp, 9781742586199

There is a long tradition of physicians turned writers, including Chekhov, Keats, Conan Doyle, and Somerset Maugham. More recent doctor–novelists include Alexander McCall Smith, Michael Crichton, and Khaled Hosseini. In Australia, Peter Goldsworthy is probably our most prominent writer–physician, with John Murray and now Paul Komesaroff joining the tradition.

Medicine provides plenty of material for the novelist. As Peter Goldsworthy said in an interview in the Medical Journal of Australia: ‘You can’t write a novel unless you have constant human contact – talking to people, listening to what they say, and studying their character – medicine’s perfect for that.’ A medical practitioner sees diverse people, often in crisis. They watch relationships change, and fail to change. They witness messy storylines being played out in front of them. They confront birth and death, disease and desire.

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Published in October 2014 no. 365
Rachel Robertson

Rachel Robertson

Rachel Robertson is a West Australian writer and lecturer in professional writing at Curtin University. She was the joint winner (with Mark Tredinnick) of the 2008 Australian Book Review Calibre Prize for Outstanding Essay. Rachel’s essays and short fiction have been published in anthologies and journals such as Griffith Review, Island, Life Writing, Westerly, and Best Australian Essays 2008. She is the author of Reaching One Thousand: A Story of Love, Motherhood and Autism (2012) and co-editor of Purple Prose (2015).

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