Synopses & Reviews
In this remarkably assured and satisfying debut collection, John Murray seamlessly meshes fact with fiction, taking his inspiration from the worlds of science, medicine, and nature. The stories are set in intriguing locations across the globe -- a cholera tent in the slums of Bombay, a United Nations refugee camp in the mountains of Africa, a Key West hideaway -- where his characters, among them doctors, nurses, research scientists, explorers, and collectors, can be found reading The Manual of Clinical Microbiology or Gray's Anatomy or the Complete Textbook of Psychiatry.
And yet, despite the pull of the outer world, these stories are all about the internal world of emotions -- love, loss, obsession, and conflict -- and about families and how they survive. They unfold to tell of moments when people catch glimpses of their real selves, their pasts, and have flashes of understanding about their lives. In "The Hill Station," an American-born scientist is drawn to Bombay, the homeland of her parents, where she breaks free from the confines of her well-ordered life. The title story tells of an aging surgeon who uses his grandfather's collection of butterflies to try and make sense of his past. In "Blue" a young man -- still haunted by the tragic death of his father years earlier -- traverses the Himalayan mountain that would have been his father's last climb. In "Acts of Memory, Wisdom of Man," the son of Indian immigrants relives the summer of 1968, and the events that determined his brother's fate.
Vivid and alive, these stories reveal whole lives -- characters caught between the past and the present, between different cultures, and between their intellects and emotions. Global in scope, classical in form, evocative of place, this rich collection marks an exciting and original debut.
"Writing that bristles with emotive power." Library Journal
"Stunning short story collection
writer to watch." Booklist (starred)
"Brilliant....How lucky for all of us that he chose to write fiction." Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto
"These stories linger with you like a delicious aftertaste." Abraham Verghese, author of My Own Country and The Tennis Partner
The eight stories in this remarkable collection take their inspiration from the world of medicine and science. They tell of moments when people catch glimpses of their real selves, their pasts, and have flashes of understanding that are deeply human. Intricately plotted and structured, with a novelistic scope and depth, these long stories share themes of love, loss, and redemption, and the sense that it is always possible to transform a life.
An American scientist in Bombay makes a decision that will affect her forever; an elderly surgeon uses his grandfather's collection of butterflies to make sense of his past; a son goes looking for his missing father and is transformed after hearing a story about a child in Africa. Vivid and alive, these stories unfold to reveal whole lives -- people caught between the past and the present, between different cultures, and between their intellect and emotions. Global in scope, classical in form, evocative of place and emotion, this collection marks an exciting and original debut.
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Writing that bristles with emotive power.
About the Author
John Murray trained as a doctor and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was a teaching-writing fellow. "The Hill Station" won the Prairie Lights Short Fiction Award, and the title story was selected by Joyce Carol Oates for the Best New American Voices 2002 fiction anthology. John Murray currently lives in Iowa.
Table of Contents
The hill station -- All the rivers in the world -- A few short notes on tropical butterflies -- White flour -- Watson and the shark -- The carpenter who looked like a boxer -- Blue -- Acts of memory, wisdom of man.