Narrated By: Joe Barrett
Duration: 9 hours and 17 minutes
What to expect
If you need an appendectomy, he can do it with a stone scalpel he fashioned himself. If you have a condition nobody can diagnose—"creeping eruption" perhaps—he can identify what it is and treat it. A baby with hair tourniquet syndrome, a human leg that's washed ashore, a horse with Lyme disease, a narcoleptic falling face-first in the street, a hermit living underground—hardly anything is off-limits for Dr. Timothy J. Lepore.
This is the spirited, true story of a colorful, contrarian doctor on the world-famous island of Nantucket. Thirty miles out to sea, in a strikingly offbeat place known for wealthy summer people but also home to independent-minded, idiosyncratic year-rounders, Lepore holds the life of the island, often quite literally, in his hands. He's surgeon, medical examiner, football team doctor, tick expert, unofficial psychologist, accidental homicide detective, and occasional veterinarian. When crisis strikes, he's deeply involved.
Lepore has treated Jimmy Buffett, Chris Matthews, and various Kennedys, but he makes house calls for anyone and lets people pay him nothing—or anything: oatmeal-raisin cookies, a weather-beaten .44 Magnum, a picture of a Nepalese shaman.
Lepore can be controversial and contradictory, espousing conservative views while performing abortions and giving patients marijuana cookies. He has unusual hobbies: he's a gun fanatic, roadkill collector, and concocter of pastimes like knitting dog-hair sweaters.
Ultimately, Island Practice is about a doctor utterly essential to a community at a time when medicine is increasingly money driven and impersonal. Can he remain a maverick even as a health-care chain subsumes his hospital? Every community has—or, some would say, needs—a Doctor Lepore, and his island's drive to retain individuality in a cookie-cutter world is echoed across the country.
Biography: science, technology and medicine, Biography: general, Medicine: general issues
Listen to a sample
“If you want to understand the ‘real’ Nantucket, you must read Island Practice. Dr. Tim Lepore personifies the island’s fierce, quirky, and independent spirit. This is a book about an extraordinary man—a doctor, yes, but also a community hero. His story is as engrossing as the best fiction…but it’s all true.”
“Pam Belluck has dissected the antics and heroism of a Nantucket doctor who doubles as the resident wizard. This physician not only makes house calls (even to tree houses) but also invites patients to drop in at his house for treatment. If you suffer from Nantucket Fever—or any other ill while on that island—Dr. Tim Lepore is your man.”
“Outstanding imagery and character description. Readable, interesting, and almost cautionary in its description of what we have lost in today’s world of medicine…Thank goodness for writers like Pam Belluck who, in Island Practice, presents Dr. Tim Lepore, a cross between Marcus Welby and Hawkeye Pierce of M*A*S*H fame.”
“Belluck’s prose is beautiful and lyrical…The Lepore she gives us is a fascinating character.”
“A careful, eminently readable character study of a fascinating, difficult man whose curiosity and compassion are far too rare in the practice of modern medicine.”
“A fun profile of Nantucket’s gun-toting, marijuana-prescribing, house-call-making local doc.”
“Through the improbable story of an eccentric and intensely creative Nantucket doctor—the man has operated with flints!—Pam Belluck has crafted an elegant and wildly entertaining depiction of the struggle to maintain humanity and empathy in the face of health care’s ongoing industrialization. A natural storyteller with a reporter’s eye for detail and a stand-up comic’s dry wit, Belluck leaves the reader with an urge to feign illness just to have an excuse to visit her subject. A truly wonderful read.”
“A vibrant, throbbing, and sometimes painful book about life on an island and all the messiness that goes along with helping people through hard times if you’re the local doctor…Island Practice is chock-full of colorful anecdotes of island life, humor, empathy, colorful and sometimes X-rated medical emergencies, and the mundane that make up the life of a country, or island, doctor.”
“If you were as entranced as I was with John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, you’ll find similar pleasures in Island Practice.”
“Funny, startling, and sobering by turns.”
“Page-turning prose…Inspiring and entertaining, Lepore’s story and his beloved island come to life in Belluck’s hands.”
“This is a riveting portrait of a dynamic, headstrong physician. Medical nonfiction fans will find much to enjoy. Lepore may remind readers of Dr. Paul Farmer from Tracy Kidder’s Mountains beyond Mountains.”
“[An] absorbing debut…An intriguing biography of a unique—and on Nantucket, irreplaceable—doctor.”