Synopses & Reviews
Exquisite new fictions by the National Book Award-winning author of Ship Fever
, "a writer we must declare as major" (Newsday
Ranging across two centuries, and from the western Himalaya to an Adirondack village, these wonderfully imagined stories and novellas travel the territories of yearning and awakening, of loss and unexpected discovery. A mapper of the highest mountain peaks realizes his true obsession. A young woman afire with scientific curiosity must come to terms with romantic fantasy. Brothers and sisters, torn apart at an early age, are beset by dreams of reunion. Throughout, Andrea Barrett's most characteristic theme the happenings in that borderland between science and desire unfolds in the diverse lives of unforgettable human beings.
Although each richly layered tale stands alone, readers who are already fans of Barrett will discover subtle links to characters in her earlier works. "Servants of the Map," the title story, was selected for Best American Short Stories (2001) and Prize Stories: The O'Henry Awards (2001).
"The scientific themes that made Barrett's novel The Voyage of the Narwhal and her NBA-winning collection Ship Fever two of the most unusual literary successes of their decade again predominate in this superb new gathering of four stories and two novellas....One understands how the intricacies of the complex phenomena Barrett has studied have possessed her imagination: she's still filling in gaps, revisiting scenes, reworking materials. Gorgeous, illuminating, entrancing fiction." Kirkus Reviews
"[E]ngrossing....For [Barrett], the impulse to explore further and deeper, the need of each generation to surpass the one before, is a force often more powerful than love itself, one both beautiful and terrifying. Her characters bear the scars of its rendings and yet few of them can resist it." Laura Miller, Salon.com
"[S]pellbinding....In these complex yet ravishing tales of scientific pursuits stoked by loneliness and desire, Barrett ponders the spiritual toll associated with exile from home and loved ones, and conflicts between the passion for learning and the demands of love and family life....Barrett's characters are deep and self-possessed, and their stories, so intelligently and delectably told, both romanticize and validate the quest for understanding life that drives scientists and artists alike." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Travelers, naturalists, nurses, botanists, surveyors, a multitude of seekers and healers populate this luminous new collection of two novellas and four stories....The mark of Barrett's artistry is her ability to illuminate loneliness and isolation, but also to capture the improbably forged bonds between her disparate characters. Familiar figures appear and reappear in more than one story, and many readers will be able to make connections between these tales and Barrett's earlier works. Yet each is rich and independent and beautiful and should draw Barrett many new admirers." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Andrea Barrett makes her home in Rochester, New York. She is the winner of the National Book Award for Fiction (1996) and has received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and an honorary degree from Union College. She has taught in the MFA program for writers at the Warren Wilson College, has been a visiting writer at colleges and universities and a faculty member of numerous writers' conferences, including the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She is currently a fellow at the Center for Writers and Scholars at the New York Public Library.