[In addition to telling the stories of Henry Gray and H.V. Carter,] The Anatomist also concerns the progress of a third anatomist: Hayes himself. Early on in his research, Hayes was determined that he too should learn through scalpel and cadaver as well as lecture, library and archive. Some of his most memorable writing describes the dissection classes he attended in San Francisco. We are treated to a selection of fascinating anatomical snippets about, for example, how to trace evidence of the sealed hole in the fetal heart through which the mother's blood enters; or how to find the kidney in a cadaver; or that blood flowing out of the heart is first used to feed the heart itself; or, best of all, a structural analysis of how the Queen manages to deliver such a uniquely restrained wave.
These sections allow Hayes to do what seemingly every writer must these days: he tells us about himself. Those tempted to skip over these fashionable journalistic passages might actually profit from lingering over them. It is here that Hayes really comes to grips with the emotional tension inherent in anatomical studies: the way in which layers of a dead body can be stripped away so we might better understand life.
Causes Bill Hayes Supports
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative