It is 7:13pm and I have literally just finished reading the book Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett. This collection of short stories, tied by the themes of Life, Death and Nature, are filled with intelligent creativity that gives the reader a chance to truly delve into literary desire. Although this is the first book I have read by Barrett, I know that I will be reading more of her work very soon. Her writing grabs you from the first page and does not let you go; quite honestly, you will not want to let go. Her writing is similar to Barbara Kingsolver and Alice Hoffman yet stands in its own category of a mixture of magical realism, fierce intelligence and literary enticement that tingles with every page.
The Behavior of the Hawkweeds tells the story of a woman and her husband who is a professor of Genetics who, through their fascination with Gregor Mendel, realize that the circle of Life is very delicate and can be unforgiving.
The English Pupil tells of a sled ride one night in which Carl Linnaeus, fevered with delirium, remembers his life and the beautiful knowledge he gained that is now trickling away like sand.
The Littoral Zone tells the story of the coming together of a professor of botany and a professor of invertebrate zoology and the romance that ensues although they are married to other people.
Rare Bird tells the story of a woman who defies all convention in 1762 when she embraces the world of knowledge and sets out to test a myth regarding swallows against the mind of Linnaeus.
Soroche tells the story of a woman who, through the death of her husband, tries to learn what it means to truly live, only to lose it all again.
Birds With No Feet tells the story of a young man who set himself into the world as an explorer and scientist and learns a harsh lesson about the set ways of the Natural world.
The Marburg Sisters is my favourite story in the collection - imagine two sisters, closer than skin, who see the world through a different lens. Add a contact with a ghost, slow decaying death of the human body and freedom of the mind, body and soul and you have a story that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life.
Finally, the last story entitled Ship Fever tells of a young doctor who sets out to discover himself and his role in the world by taking on typhus on a small island that has the ability to both cure and kill whomever comes into contact.
Reading Ship Fever will reawaken your senses and make you ask many questions about not only yourself and your role within the world but of the world itself.