For Kellen Michael Schult,
the best son a dad could have
— then, now and always.
I’d like to simply ask anyone who’d like to be acknowledged to bop over for dinner some night as soon as I’m settled in again somewhere, assuming that you don’t mind eating take-out. We can sit around and talk and I can thank you properly and fulsomely. But it would be a pretty empty gesture unless I left some directions or at least an address, neither of which I can anticipate right now. The only thing I know for sure is that we will do this again some time. That?s fair warning for those who found that me writing a book turned out to be more entertaining than they would have thought.
I started writing acknowledgments when the book was only half done, which seems pretty presumptuous, but it was about at that point that I realized that there really would be a Beauty from Afar and that there would be people to thank for that. First, thanks to everyone who always believed that I would write a book — Mom and dad, my brothers, assorted girlfriends over the years. That was a lot of damned pressure, you know? No wonder it took me until I was 49! But it’s okay, I forgive you enough to thank you lots, for everything, all along the way. In particular, I owe Frances Kuffel for saying that I would be good at this in such a way that I believed her, and for her encouragement, faith, and support as a friend. I have called this faith a curse, on occasion, but thank her for it regardless.
More graciously, perhaps, I’d like to thank Susan Campbell, who gave me the idea that going to Costa Rica for dental work might be a fine magazine story, which it was, and Stephanie Summers, the best managing editor that the Hartford Courant Northeast magazine could hope to have had, for publishing that really long story. Whoever heard of a 10,000-word piece about dental work?
Next, chronologically, I want to thank Beth Bruno for introducing me to my agent, Linda Konner, and Linda for persevering on my behalf through the perhaps inevitable 20 or so rejections, until finding an editor who agreed with us that this book was a good idea. That editor, Debora Yost at Stewart, Tabori & Chang, later told me that there are a lot of books about cosmetic surgery and that they say all the same things (which explains, somewhat, the rejections). But she was the only acquisitions editor who read my proposal and realized that my book was not about cosmetic surgery, but was much more about traveling abroad for medical care, a topic about which she knew almost nothing. She warmed to it, and I am grateful. Many thanks also to Lisa Andruscavage, whose questions and assiduous copy editing both sharpened and smoothed my best early efforts.
I am humbly grateful to all the surgeons, doctors, and medical professionals around the world who contributed to this project by sharing their knowledge and experience, and hope that they find the result did them justice individually and collectively. I have a heightened appreciation, in particular, for the deep, shared commitment to well-being that they hold universally, wherever they may practice, under whatever conditions.
Finally, I’d like to thank the patients, too many to count, who shared with me their experiences in traveling abroad for medical care and cosmetic surgery; and I hope, as I know they do, that the publication of Beauty from Afar will illuminate the path along which they traveled and show the way for others to come.