Ship Fever: Stories
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
1996 National Book Award Winner for Fiction.
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).
out to tend to the horses and Linnaeus, staring into the flames, felt his beloved place around him. He’d rebuilt this house and added several wings; on the hill he’d built a small museum for his herbarium and his insect collection and his rocks and zoological specimens. In his study and bedroom the walls were papered from ceiling to floor with botanical etchings and prints, and outside, among the elms and beyond the Siberian garden, the glass bells he’d hung sang in the wind. In his youth he had
only a Quaker woman for a chaperone—no, it was not appropriate. Although it was just what you might expect from a woman brought up so irregularly. Mr. Rowley’s mother would never have done such a thing. Sissy sniffed. “I heard,” she said, in a quavery voice just audible to Annie. “You heard what?” Annie said sharply. “Speak up.” “I heard,” Sissy repeated, “from Margaret—you know, at the Richardsons’—that a patient of his died because of something he did. Mrs. Sewell, it was. She had the
exhalations given off by filth. But I have to admit I have had no success in finding these microorganisms. Lauchlin skimmed the rest of the letter and then put it down, feeling very tired. His twenty-eighth birthday had passed without anyone noticing it but him; perhaps, as Gerhard had once suggested, he should have settled in New York or Philadelphia upon his return from Paris, instead of coming here. He almost burned the other letter unread. A request for money from one of the newly founded
won’t keep them in quarantine if the steerage looks clean. They bully the passengers into throwing all their filthy bedding overboard, all their cooking utensils, the nasty straw: it gets foul down there—have you seen one of these holds? There are no…facilities, and the floors fill up with excrement and filth. They shovel the worst of it into buckets and heave it into the river before we arrive.” He pushed his hat back on his forehead and rubbed at the damp line there. “Sometimes they knock out
cheek, but as long as she bustled about like this, and chattered as if this were a social call, all he could do was respond in kind. “Annie said something about that.” Susannah gestured toward one of the armchairs and then seized a folder of papers before settling in a matching chair across from him. “This is what he’s been doing,” she said, ruffling through the folder and pulling out newspaper clippings. “Quebec, Montreal, Boston, London—there’s hardly a first-rate paper he hasn’t written for,