It's a sad fact of life: Some people just get all the talent, leaving everybody else trying to grind out a life with minimal capabilities, constantly striving for adequacy. Pauline W. Chen is one of those talent hogs who make everybody else look like a slouch. Not only does she have degrees from Harvard and the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, she also completed her surgical training at Yale, the National Cancer Institute, and UCLA (where she just happened to be named Outstanding Physician of the Year in 1999). You would think being a phenomenally skilled surgeon would be enough for her. But no, she also is an amazing, and, of course, award-winning, nonfiction writer. Perhaps a parent or professor at some point warned her to have a backup plan if a career in surgery didn't work out. Chen's best-selling book, Final Exam, focuses on death's place in the field of medicine. The book explores Chen's thoughts on death, starting with medical school and continuing through daily work confronting mortality in a humane and caring way.
Fri., Feb. 1, 7 p.m., 2008