Mixing Arts and Science: Vincent Lam visits Trent University

Vincent Lam visited Trent University on Friday, September 13 for a reading in the Grand Hall at Champlain College that included a panel discussion, question and answer period, and book signing. As many may be familiar with the name, Lam is the author of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, which was a Giller prize winner and the book of choice for this past summer’s Trent Reads program.

Students, faculty, and other visitors of the reading were given a chance to get know the acclaimed author better and listen as he read out one of the finer sections of his award-winning novel.

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures is a fictional novel about four medical students as they work into their way into the profession. All different and dysfunctional in their own ways, Lam gives readers a chance to see doctors in a light they aren’t often seen in—human. He admitted that the four main characters “are all a little bit of me in caricature.”

Lam is a physician and did his undergraduate studies in Ottawa before going to the University of Toronto for his medical training. He now works in the emergency room at Toronto General Hospital. Along with all of this other experiences, he has made international air evacuations, a profession that a chapter in his novel is devoted to. Lam has also done medicine expeditions on Arctic and Antarctic ships.

During the question and answer period students were able to gain insight into Lam’s writing process. Lam stated that he does his best drafting work in the morning before his mind gets cluttered up with the day. He said that “the great joy of writing is being able to explore impulses without actually going there.”

For those in attendance it was a great opportunity to listen and learn from a renaissance man of sorts with a career path that melds arts and science. Even Lam himself said “I thought she (his teacher) were going to think I was crazy. How can you be a doctor and a writer?”