by Michael Crichton
Vintage Books (e-book)
Fans of Michael Crichton's fiction will appreciate this autobiography, which masquerades under the misleading title Travels. Sure, Crichton, who died in 2008, included vignettes of such 'exotic' places as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia - a country, he wrote, nobody in Los Angeles then could place on a map. But it is the stories at the start and end that give clues to the inspiration for his work. He begins with 'It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw', describes medical school (and that he felt like throwing in the stethoscope every year) and tells how he finally left the profession after finding himself listening to patients and wondering how he could work their complaints into stories. Apart from travel, mysticism, meditation and psychic phenomena are his obsessions, which give a different take on the author of such best-sellers as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain. Readers also see Crichton's cheeky side: as a student he once submitted a George Orwell essay as his own. The B- he received proved what he had suspected: his writing instructor was poorly read and unfit to judge his writing style.