From birth to death, a lyrical exploration of the role of transformation in human life.
To be alive is to be in perpetual metamorphosis: Growing, healing, learning, aging. In Shapeshifters, physician and writer Gavin Francis considers the inevitable changes all of our bodies undergo - such as birth, puberty, and death, but also laughter, sleeping, and healing - and those that only some of our bodies will: Like getting a tattoo, experiencing psychosis, suffering anorexia, being pregnant, or undergoing a gender transition.
In Francis's hands, each event becomes an opportunity to explore the meaning of identity and the natures - biological, psychological, and philosophical - of our selves. True to its own subject, Shapeshifters combines Francis's lyrical imagination and deep knowledge of medicine and the humanities for a life-altering listen.
"Wonderful, written with a deep feeling for language. A writer-physician who sees the drama and beauty in human life." (Annie Dillard, author of An American Childhood and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
"What makes the book fun to read is not only the author's limpid anecdotes from his private practice, but also his abiding marvel at the body's endless expressions. Francis ranges freely and skillfully from the strange to the elemental... [he] always makes you think. Captivating medical narratives that fit well alongside those of Oliver Sachs, Atul Gawande, Jerome Groopman, and Berton Roueché." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
"A thoughtful exploration... Francis's wide-ranging experience and curiosity produce fascinating samples of medical and cultural approaches to human change." (Publishers Weekly)