For the Sandy Springs octogenarian, now is as good a time as any to mine that wellspring of experience. Hence, the unveiling of his autobiography, “Thoughts of an Aging, Liberal, Agnostic Cardiologist,” released nationally last month by Tate Publishing.
The motley tome, the author’s first published work, is comprised of an assortment of creative writing pieces — from original plays to an unproduced “Seinfeld” script — commentary on issues of the day and accounts from both his personal and professional lives. The latter draws on his 50-year career as an internist and cardiologist, including stints at Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University and his lengthy time in private practice.
The Neighbor Newspapers caught up with the 81-year-old last week for a candid interview.
Q: What inspired you to pen this book?
A: I took an Emory senior [citizens] writing course and several of us later decided to start a writing group. A lot of [what’s in the book] is from that course. I’ve been [writing] now for about three and a half years and I find that all a writer needs to be a writer is a pencil and a reader … someone to act as audience and/or editor. You can’t just write for yourself. At least I can’t. I think people have compared what I write to Andy Rooney — except mine’s a little better (laughs).
Q: How much of the book is strictly autobiographical?
A: It’s hard to put a percentage on it; I never thought about it too much. But, I’d say about 25 percent.
Q: How would you assess the interesting title you settled on?
A: I think it [encompasses] my major attributes, actually. Certainly, aging is in there. And I think the liberal approach to life is to worry about people that are less fortunate than you … liberal, meaning willing to go the extra mile to help people out.
Q: What kind of experiences from your medical career do you share in the book?
A: Nothing really specifically about cardiology, but a reasonable amount of the way a doctor should behave toward and approach patients. The key word is empathy. You really get to know people. … I think it’s sort of an honor for doctors. I compare it to priests — we really know the inner side of people. We have an advantage. … We can give them some real, physical help.
Q: Who would you say the book is for? Did you have a specific target audience in mind?
A: It’s mostly strong ideas that I have. Every day I wake up between 5 and 7 [a.m.] and just think of things. And, if I feel strongly about them, I say I’m going to write that up. There’s a reasonable amount of political stuff in there. … I’ve given it to a good few people who have different ideologies and they haven’t complained too much.
Information: The book is available through bookstores nationwide and online via Tate Publishing, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.