If you haven’t read any of Atul Gawande’s essays or books, I highly recommend them. While, as a surgeon, his writing is generally grounded in the practice of medicine, the topics he writes about have much wider applicability. Specifically, I just finished The Checklist Manifesto, which argues persuasively a deceptively simple premise: people in a wide variety of fields could reduce their rate of errors, be more effective, and prevent catastrophe through use of the humble checklist. If you read it, you’ll find yourself wondering why the practice isn’t more widely used.
Is it simply because we’re too proud to admit that we could use the help?
There’s a point about two-thirds of the way through Too Close to Miss, John Perich’s excellent debut novel,* right after the plot twist that sends the story into its final act, where Mara Cunningham (the novel’s protagonist) drops a reference to The Untouchables. It’s a fairly obvious reference–even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll recognize the line–and the way Perich casually puts it into Cunningham’s words is a tribute to the easy style he brings throughout the novel. But, more importantly, that moment–a character in 2011 referencing a line from a 1987 movie about a Prohibition-era crime fighter–crystallizes the tension and play between eras that gives Too Close to Miss its sense of life.
(Note: I will try to avoid spoiling the plot; as with any mystery, Too Close to Miss is more enjoyable on first read if you don’t know how it ends. I think that nothing I mention plot-wise happens in the second half of the book, but be warned.)