Ship Fever and Other Stories

Ship Fever and Other Stories

Book - 1996
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The elegant short fictions gathered hereabout the love of science and the science of love are often set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century. Interweaving historical and fictional characters, they encompass both past and present as they negotiate the complex territory of ambition, failure, achievement, and shattered dreams.In "Ship Fever," the title novella, a young Canadian doctor finds himself at the center of one of history's most tragic epidemics. In "The English Pupil," Linnaeus, in old age, watches as the world he organized within his head slowly drifts beyond his reach. And in "The Littoral Zone," two marine biologists wonder whether their life-altering affair finally was worth it.In the tradition of Alice Munro and William Trevor, these exquisitely rendered fictions encompass whole lives in a brief space. As they move between interior and exterior journeys, "science is transformed from hard and known fact into malleable, strange and thrilling fictional material" (Boston Globe).
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 1996.
ISBN: 9780393038538
Branch Call Number: SS/BARR
Characteristics: 254p.; 22cm.


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Aug 13, 2018

Ship Fever won the National Book Award for Fiction, a rare distinction for a book of stories. Actually, it was honored almost exclusively for the novella "Ship Fever" with which it concludes. The stories bound with it, mainly about scientists and science, are competent and original; "Ship Fever," however, is one of the greatest American novellas, in a class with work of Melville, James, and Faulkner. It traces the arrival of Nora Kynd, an Irish immigrant fleeing famine, who arrives in North America, not at Ellis Island, but in Canada at Grosse Island in the St. Lawrence River near Quebec. There, near death from Ship Fever (Typhus), she is separated from her younger brothers and remains to nurse the dying young physician whose care has saved her life. The novella ends in a striking episode in which she sets out alone for Detroit. One of the best examples of contemporary historical fiction, it, in its portrayal of immigrant experience, is stunning.

Nora, at later stages in her life will reappear in other books by Andrea Barrett, notably Servants of the Map. One of her lost brothers survives resourcefully in Barrett's impressive novel of Arctic exploration The Voyage of the Narwhal.

May 29, 2018

I particularly enjoyed "Ship Fever", set on Grosse Isle during the Irish emigration. It tells the story of a young doctor and the incredibly awful conditions to which the Irish were subjected as a result of political decisions in London. Other stories also involve historical figures and are science related.

msmigels Jan 04, 2014

Andrea Barrett's incredibly crafted, complex, crystallized stories evoke a surprising amount of emotion in the limited space of a short story. Each involves some aspect of the history and revelations of science as a framework for an exposition of human weakness, desire, passion, longing and endeavor.

Dec 05, 2010

1996 National Book Award - Fiction


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