STRONG SHADOWS: Scenes From an Inner City AIDS Clinic by Abigail Zuger, MD. (Freeman: $22.95, 243 pp.) One might think, at first glance, that a book chronicling the lives of various patients in an inner-city AIDS clinic would be incredibly depressing. "Strong Shadows" by Dr. Abigail Zuger certainly contains a lot of sadness and frustration, yet, perhaps because the book's emphasis is on creating portraits of individuals and the battle to prolong their lives, it is too full of energy to be depressing.
There are eight dying people described in this book. Although the personalities vary greatly, they tend to blend together so that by the end we are left with an overall picture, a mural, rather than images of individuals. But Zuger's writing is so accomplished, her gaze so accurate, that the image of AIDS she gives us is memorable and moving. In the end, "Strong Shadows" is as much about compassion as sickness. Zuger's empathy, caring, and deep respect for her often difficult patients comes through on every page. She is a true hero who never waves a banner saying, "Look at me, I'm a true hero." One hopes that this important book will be read by those who need it most.