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Demolishing a Nursing Facility – Burch’s review of David Fox’s Between the Walls – The Gap

Demolishing a Nursing Facility – Burch’s review of David Fox’s Between the Walls – The Gap

David Fox is a palliative care physician and award-winning author. In his latest novel, Between the Walls, Fox takes a look behind the walls of a nursing home, the people who work there, and the professional sector characterized by hard physical and mental work. The author deals frankly with fundamental questions about care work: What value does population history have? Is humanity limited in size?

When young volunteer Margareta Blume, known as Meta, enters a nursing home for the first time, it is as if she is entering a foreign world. A miniature world of its own, cut off from the outside world and characterized by the noise of a construction site and visions of the future. The nursing home where Mita undertakes her first duty and hence the night vigil of Mr. T. It is in its final stages and is gradually bidding farewell to all its residents before closing its doors forever. Mr. T. is one of those who remain and a man whose story can only be speculated upon. Why is Mr. T screaming? Every night?

Initials without stories

For six nights, readers sit with Mita at Mr. T’s bedside. They accompany him, observing the routine movements of Nurse Musa or meditating with Dr. T. Wendelin Pomp is equally about the demise of nursing home residents and residents. The residents, identified only by initials and whose stories the staff either doesn’t know at all or only knows in broad outlines, seem to almost fade into a side note. The focus is on the thoughts, feelings and (practical) stressors of both long-serving and newly joined and sometimes significantly overburdened nursing staff.

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David Fox (Photography: Daniela Fox)

While operations in a nursing home are a new field for Mita and she has to ignore some fluids and rumors, Nurse Musa already has countless years of experience in nursing work. It lifts, wipes and washes in a natural way that one can only marvel at. The interaction between the characters creates its own dynamic, which becomes increasingly important when Meta senses that Mr. T has a dark past. Henceforth, the question arises to what extent compassion and care should be taken for granted. And why Moses can do what he does day in and day out is a huge challenge for Metta.

David Fox described nights in a nursing home in short chapters. He merely provides the outlines of a care process that could be anywhere or anywhere, using language that seems to oscillate between sobriety and depth. In addition, Fox is never sugar-coated, but always close to people. Yes, always human – just like the thoughts and feelings of nursing home staff.

Display on the walls

Because David Fox is not just a spectator, he actually knows what he is talking about and makes it noticeable to readers through the pages. The structure of the novel, the brevity of the visions, and the determination of the residents as mere initials with little history, tell of the enormous time and pressure of staff in the care sector. The broad outlines of Mr. T’s story. Also special is that it can be mentally difficult to make a living by caring for others. Practicing this profession often means having to put on a mental uniform every day from the doorstep of the workplace in order to be able to do the day’s work. Fox gives readers a look at an isolated social hotspot that not only seems surrounded by walls, but also requires people to build their own walls.

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David Fox “Between the Walls”

“Between the walls” Written by David Fox and published by Haymon Verlag.

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