'The issue of brain texture is on my mind all the time. Why? I am a neurosurgeon. The brain is my business. Many of the brains I encounter have been pushed around by tumors, blood clots, infections or strokes that have swollen out of control. Some have been invaded by bullets, nails or even maggots. I see brains at their most vulnerable.' As Katrina Firlik says in her introduction, if you are about to go under the knife, you don't care if your surgeon has published a paper in Nature or the New Scientist - what you really need is a good brain mechanic and preferably a swift one. In this absorbing and compelling book she opens wide the doors of the operating theatre and invites the reader into the weird and often wonderful world of brain surgery. Using individual stories as the starting point for each chapter - such as the carpenter with a nail in his head or the man with maggots on the brain - she looks at the technical versus the intellectual side of brain surgery, what kind of person becomes a brain surgeon, the tools of the trade, a 'day at the office', the ethics and dilemmas of surgery and the future including 'designer' brains.
Katrina Firlik completed her residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the largest and most prestigious neurosurgery department in the US and was the first woman admitted to the programme. She then went on to complete a fellowship at Yale and is now an Assistant Professor there as well as having her own private practice. She is 35 years old and this is her first book.