Bringing Out the Dead (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

Bringing Out the Dead (Vintage Contemporaries) By Joe Connelly Cover Image
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Perhaps only someone who has worked for almost a decade as a medic in New York City's Hell's Kitchen--as Joe Connelly has--could write a novel as riveting and fiercely authentic as Bringing Out the Dead. Like a front-line reporter, Connelly writes from deep within the experience, and the result is a debut novel of extraordinary power and intensity.

In Frank Pierce, a brash EMS medic working the streets of Hell's Kitchen, Connelly gives us a man who is being destroyed by the act of saving people. Addicted to the thrill ("the best drug in the world") and the mission of the job, Frank is nevertheless drowning in five years' worth of grief and guilt--his own and others': "my primary role was less about saving lives than about bearing witness." His wife has left him, he's drinking on the job, and just a month ago he "helped to kill" an eighteen-year-old asthmatic girl. Now she's become the waking nightmare of all his failures: hallucination and projection ("the ghosts that once visited my dreams had followed me out to the street and were now talking back"), and as real to him as his own skin. And in reaction to her death, Frank has desperately resurrected a patient back into a life now little better than death.

In a narrative that moves with the furious energy of an ambulance run, we follow Frank through two days and nights: into the excitement and dread of the calls; the mad humor that keeps the medics afloat; the memories, distant and recent, through which Frank reminds himself why he became a medic and tries, in vain, to convince himself to give it up. And we are with him as he faces his newest ghost: the resurrected patient, whose demands to be released into death might be the most sensible thing Frank has heard in months, if only he would listen.

Bringing Out the Dead is a stunning novel.

About the Author

Joe Connelly worked for nine years as a medic for St. Clare's Hospital in New York City, where he was born. He lives in New York City and is at work on his second novel.

Praise For…

"What propels Bringing Out the Dead is . . . the vigorous rythyms of Connelly's writing-- the poetry of broken bodies and broken lives, of swollen blue limbs . . . of dead brain cells 'expolding like sap in a fire'. . . . A stunning first novel."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Hauntingly evocative, as lyrical as it is harrowing. . . . It does for ambulances what Taxi Driver did for yellow cabs."

"A knock-down spectacular first novel. . . . Connelly was a New York City medic for 9 years, and his firsthand experience is apparent."

"Martin Scorsese is adapting Bringing Out the Dead, but if you're smart you won't wait for the film."

"The author weaves his way through his first work with absolute confidence and an assured style that is at once immediate and reflective. It is also exactly right; the harsh, staccato rhythm allows Connelly to capture the frenzied pace and the raw, unpolished drama with an inflection that always sounds real, never forced . . . "
--Washington Post Book World

"We never doubt the authenticity of every detail . . . This nightmarish yet immensely satisfying and authentic novel . . . depicts the world of a young, sometimes idealistic ambulance driver who is haunted by his patients who won't die and ghosts who won't live."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"Connelly could make an accident report read like a song. This is a terrific piece of work."
--The Boston Globe

"Joe Connelly's Bringing Out the Dead is a work of the literary art that charts with compelling power the unraveling of a young man, a paramedic, who nightly has to handle the most desperate and extreme human disasters in Manhattan: the Hell's Kitchen casualties. The author's control of his explosive material is masterly. This is strong stuff, full of heart, engaging, harrowing, and real."
--Patrick McGrath

"Each of these 19 thrilling chapters opens with a single insightful vignette that further highlights the unusual world of paramedics. Highly recommended for all collections."
--Library Journal

"THE BAD NEWS? Emergency medicine is every bit as scary as you think. The good news? It makes for a damn fine read."

"Every now and then a slice-of-life novel comes along, and people take notice --a murmur can be heard across the land. Heller's Catch-22 was such a novel; so was Keysey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Connelly's novel about an EMS medic, Frank Pierce, who works the streets of Hell's Kitchen, may well be the next shining star."

"The breakneck, adrenalized eneregy of Brining Out the Dead may jumpstart a few people's hearts, and its unflinching portrayal of the discarded, disenfranchised and depraved may break a few."
--The Detroit Free Press

"'Wrenched from today's headlines' is a line used to promote books and movies. But Joe Connelly's Bringing Out the Dead is wrenched from stories that don't make even back page fillers, the nightly harvest of depravity, carnage, havoc that is the work load of a paramedic assigned a shift in Hell's Kitchen."
--The Denver Post
Product Details
ISBN: 9780375700293
ISBN-10: 0375700293
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: March 30th, 1999
Pages: 336
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries