Inside a depressing Chicago hospital emergency room, just after Christmas one year, a naive and hapless accountant named Alan meets an elderly stick-in-the-mud named Jerry, and they strike up an odd companionship. And it is odd, indeed, because Jerry is dead and Alan’s almost there.
In the new A.J. Knauss novel “Room Four,” Jerry – who has just passed away at age 87 – is stuck in the ER purgatory because, well, no doctor can be bothered to sign his death certificate.
Alan’s here for reasons he doesn’t understand. Wasn’t he just at home watching the Bears-Vikings game on TV a moment ago?
Before this story ends – and we find out if Alan does – we’re also going to meet an entire cast of supporting characters who may be found in amergency rooms across America.
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How closely does Room Four resemble the real-life medicine A.J. Knauss practices? Well, take Jerry, the elderly man who has just passed away and is stuck in a purgatory of paperwork. Here’s what A.J. says on her blog:
There was an elderly gentleman admitted to palliative care who actually did die on the ER bed. I overheard the argument (not quite as heated as in the book) between the two docs about who had to fill out the paperwork and thought, hmm, what if bureaucracy was so bad it could literally hold up your SOUL?
The other side of Jerry is the patience and grace of so many tough old folks coping with the various indignities and discomforts of getting old and being sick….I wanted to show that but also give them a voice, give them permission to gripe about it. So while Alan is more neurotic about his worries, Jerry has a wiser attitude of “F*#k it!” What if there is nothing good about this situation yet here we are, may as well have fun. He’s more wise than cynical.
Have you ever had a near-death experience? (Have you ever had a near-life experience?) Tell us more in the comments!