Richard Selzer was a surgeon and author. He was born and raised in Troy, New York, United States. His father was Julius Selzer, M.D. a general practitioner who practiced from the ground floor of the family home at Fifth Avenue in Troy. His mother, Gertrude Selzer, was an amateur singer who performed in local productions of musicals and opera. Richard Selzer graduated from Union College in 1948, with a B.S. and received his M.D. from Albany Medical College in 1953. He served in the Army for two years as a lieutenant in charge of a medical detachment. In 1960, following a surgical internship and residency at Yale University, he joined the faculty of Yale as a professor of surgery, where he remained until his retirement in 1985. Beginning in the 1970s, Dr. Selzer became well known as an author as well.
Richard Selzer books are generally collections of short stories, essays, and memoirs, including selections from his massive diary. But Imagine A Woman consists entirely of fiction, and he has written two full-length memoirs, Raising the Dead, and Down from Troy: A Doctor Comes of Age. With author and friend Peter Josyph, Selzer published a kind of spoken autobiography, What One Man Said to Another: Talks with Richard Selzer, which has also been recorded as a Blackstone audiobook with Peter Josyph reading the part of Richard Selzer and actor Raymond Todd reading the part of Peter Josyph. Josyph also edited and illustrated a collection of Selzer's correspondence with him, called Letters to A Best Friend. Selzer's most recent books are Diary, which consists entirely of entries from the journal he has kept religiously for decades, and the novel Knife Song Korea, which is closely based on his experience as a very young surgeon in the U.S. Army in a remote Korean village after the close of the Korean War. The novel won three prizes for literary fiction.