Cutting for Stone – Book Review

cutting-for-stoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

I’m not really sure how to describe “Cutting for Stone” in a way that won’t make it sound stupid.  The story is narrated by Marion, one of a pair of half-Indian, half-Anglo twins growing up in Ethiopia.  The boys were conjoined at birth, but only but a small passageway at the head, so they were quickly separated.  Marion and his brother Shiva are raised by two doctors at the hospital where they were born because their mother, a nun, died in childbirth and their father, a surgeon who didn’t know they were on their way, fled the country with his guilt and sorrow after her death.

Vergehese is clearly a very skilled writer and a very good doctor.  “Cutting for Stone'” describes rather vividly quite a few medical procedures.  Normally that would not interest me in the least.  However, in this case it was entirely appropriate for the book and gave the story more of a feeling of reality.  I was definitely able to forget that Marion was a character, as opposed to a real person.

This was definitely a good book, but unfortunately I was not able to get the full effect.  Instead of picking up a printed copy of “Cutting for Stone,” I listened to the audiobook.  Now, the audiobook had a very talented narrator who was great with voices and had good pacing.  However, I just don’t think this is a book that works well with audio, particularly if you are someone who listens to 30 or 40 minutes at a time in the car.  There was a fair amount of jumping around of time periods in the story, particularly at the beginning.  This would not have bothered me at all had I been reading and able to flip back a few pages to remember where/when I was, but on my Ipod it was not so reader-friendly. I think I’m going to have to try re-reading it, this time in print form, in a few months.

Definitely give this book a try, but avoid the audio unless you listen for long periods at a time.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.

15 comments to Cutting for Stone – Book Review

  • That’s a shame. I hope if you get a chance to read it in print form that you like it better! I don’t have this one but it’s on my “book radar”.

    Meghan’s last blog post..Interview with C.W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen

  • Very interesting. I read the book as a book, and I would agree that it may not be such a good audiobook. And it’s true that it’s way easier to flip back and forth in a book than to go through a tedious rewind!

  • Thanks for the audio review. I was going to get this from the library on audio, now I’ll get on the waiting list for the print version.

    Beth F’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday (May 13)

  • Ti

    You’re right. Some books do not lend themselves well to audio. I spend about an two hours in the car coming and going to work and if it jumped around, I would probably lose my patience with it.

    Ti’s last blog post..My Rock Star Daughter (Video)

  • This one has been on my radar too, with many great reviews out there. I do like listening to audio, so I am glad you gave us the head’s up.

    Sandy’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

  • I just finished part two as the train arrived at my stop for work this morning (page 180). I’m loving this book and really wish I could stay home all day and read it instead of being at work. You’re right that it’s hard to describe without sounding stupid. I went through that yesterday when I was trying to recommend it to someone.

    I agree that there are some books that just don’t lend themselves well to audio. I’m glad I have the print version.

    SuziQoregon’s last blog post..Audiobook – The Last Camel Died at Noon by Elizabeth Peters

  • As a book, this was very easy to follow, but I can see how it wouldn’t work well on audio. So much of what I loved about it had to do with the writing and the way the words washed over me—I think you should definitely read it in a couple months when you can get the full experience.

  • I read this a while back and it’s going to be one of my top five books of 2009 no doubt- probably 1 or 2. I fall asleep listening to audio books so I can’t say anything about that, but it was an amazing piece of work. I hope everyone who’s even remotely interested will pick it up in whatever format, and give it a chance. It’s a looooong book but so worth it!

    Marie’s last blog post..Interview with Laila Lalami, author of Secret Son

  • Kathy

    You’re right – some books are better as audio than others. I’ve got this book and hopefully it’ll be easier to follow.

  • I’m trying desperately to hold out for the paperback version, but I don’t alway succeed at that.

    I hope you get more out of the print version of this!

    J.S. Peyton’s last blog post..On Location With The 19th Wife, and a Teaser

  • Great review Jenn. This one is on my TBR and I will make sure to read the book, not listen to the audiobook.

    Teddy’s last blog post..Winner: Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

  • Thanks for the review! I just added this one to my WL at the library on audio, but now I think I will get the print version instead.

    Melissa – Shhh I’m Reading’s last blog post..Review: Dry by Augusten Burroughs

  • You’ve been reading some great books lately! I have this book (print version) sitting on my shelf and hope to get to it soon. Thanks for the review!

    S. Krishna’s last blog post..Hello Goodbye – Emily Chenoweth

  • onostuff

    I have to strongly disagree with “I just don’t think this is a book that works well with audio…”. This is a wonderful story and one of the best read audio books I’ve listened to in a while. (and I’ve listened to quite a few audio books) Suni Malhotra’s reading was spot on. This is a very long book, and we tended to listen to it on longer driving trips. Filled with culture and history I new very little about, it was a wonderful listen.

    • If you notice, I said ‘particularly if you listen for 30 to 40 minutes at a time.’ With a longer time to listen it would certainly be better, but I still think that for this book I’d rather read the print version so I could flip back and forth. I agree that the audio book was very well done (good production, narration, etc.).