Huyler delivers another dispatch from the emergency room trenches, this time from the perspective of the middle of his medical career. With years passed and experience gained, Huyler is able to offer a fuller and more nuanced portrait of what remains an astonishing, affirming, yet increasingly difficult and rapidly changing profession.
From the start, he grips readers ... Throughout, Huyler makes it impossible not to become emotionally wrapped up in these people’s stories of disease, injury, mental illness, and addiction ... These recollections provide glimpses of Huyler as a physician, obviously, but also as a father, husband, friend, and child ... The essays in White Hot Light can be read separately—in fact, many have appeared on their own elsewhere—but together, they speak powerfully, like the music on an album ... Frank Huyler provides an inside view of these heroes’ lives at a time when we need it most.
...high-stakes lyricism infuses White Hot Light ... As material for art, emergency medicine, like the climate crisis, would seem, given its tendency toward unrelieved crescendo, both appealing and treacherous. Huyler, though, is an old hand, having published both poetry and fiction, as well as an earlier volume of memoir ... The mood of this one is shaped by the accumulation of years of clinical practice, accustomed disappointments, strokes of luck and grace ... At times his style owes something to the rapturous economy of Denis Johnson, and the people drifting in and out could well find a home in a Johnson story ... implicitly political—he lays bare the cruelties and humiliations of poverty, and of for-profit health care in particular—but maintains an elemental tone ... His job is a constant reminder that life has no narrative logic.
Tales from the emergency room, told with no-nonsense brevity, clarity, and compassion ... Huyler returns with more interesting, largely stand-alone stories from his work in an ER in Albuquerque ... Huyler enriches the text with sketches of his colleagues and of some of the patients who are ER regulars as well as anecdotes from a life growing up in foreign cities with his teacher parents. Throughout, the author pleasingly describes the various settings ... The title aptly describes the illumination Huyler brings to patient care—and to writing about it.