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Getting money for college


Fascinated by the beauty of my cadences
Sherwin Nuland Surgeon
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In fact, my daughter, who is now 26, about four or five years ago… was sitting in the kitchen with me, and I was reading a book that I had written. I said… 'I am…' words to this effect, 'I am fascinated by the beauty of my cadences'. And she thought that was hilarious, so she got a little blackboard that was actually in the kitchen, and she wrote it… down. It's still there. Whenever it starts to fade, I ask her to fill it in a little bit more, because I have to be reminded of my own egocentricity. But you've got to be a little egocentric to be a writer. You have to assume that everybody wants to hear what you're writing, and you have to… some people say you have to write with authority. Well, I'm not quite sure what authority is. I write out of egocentricity. I was a beloved child. My brother was the hooligan and I was the good kid. I got very good grades in school, I did all the right things. He read constantly. He was always reading. But I did far more than read. I was a very apt student. I can see myself at a desk, with my hands clasped together so the teacher would give me some commendation of some kind.

I even skipped a grade in fifth grade. Just, sort of… a self-inspired golden boy. It's almost embarrassing to look back at me… myself in those days, living in this aura, cocoon, of I'm the most important person in the world and everybody wants to hear about what I've got to tell.

Sherwin Nuland (1930-2014) was an American surgeon and author who taught bioethics, the history of medicine, and medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. He wrote the book How We Die which made The New York Times bestseller list and won the National Book Award. He also wrote about his own painful coming of age as a son of immigrants in Lost in America: A Journey with My Father. He used to write for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, and the New York Review of Books.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: writing, blackboard, egocentric

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2011

Date story went live: 13 September 2011