"[Andrea Barrett's] work stands out for its sheer intelligence…The overall effect is quietly dazzling."—New York Times Book Review
During the summer of 1908, twelve-year-old Constantine Boyd is witness to an explosion of home-spun investigation—from experiments with cave-dwelling fish without eyes to scientifically bred crops to motorized bicycles and the flight of an early aeroplane. In 1920, a popular science writer and young widow tries, immediately after the bloodbath of the First World War, to explain the new theory of relativity to an audience (herself included) desperate to believe in an “ether of space” housing spirits of the dead. Half a century earlier, in 1873, a famous biologist struggles to maintain his sense of the hierarchies of nature as Darwin’s new theory of evolution threatens to make him ridiculous in the eyes of a precocious student. The twentieth-century realms of science and war collide in the last two stories, as developments in genetics and X-ray technology that had once held so much promise fail to protect humans—among them, a young American soldier, Constantine Boyd, sent to Archangel, Russia, in 1919—from the failures of governments and from the brutality of war.
In these brilliant fictions rich with fact, Barrett explores the thrill and sense of loss that come with scientific progress and the personal passions and impersonal politics that shape all human knowledge.
About Andrea BarrettSee more books from this Author
It’s pointless to repeat modernism’s experiments — what’s the point, in science or art, of reinventing the wheel? — but it’s just as disingenuous to write as if Joyce, or any of the other great visionaries and oracles of 20th-century literature, never existed.Read Full Review of Archangel: Fiction | See more reviews from NY Times
The best of the five stories in “Archangel” recall the power and mystery of Ms. Barrett’s “Ship Fever,” another collection of exceptional delicacy and grace. Together, these five stories form a cycle, one that begins in 1908 with “The Investigators,” centering on the viewpoint of a 12-year-old boy, Constantine Boyd...Read Full Review of Archangel: Fiction | See more reviews from NY Times
In the title piece, the final one in the collection, Constantine, that young Detroiter from the first tale, shows up as a wounded soldier in the midst of the winter of 1919 in civil-war torn Russia...this final story achieves a fusion of life and wonder which the other pieces strove to reach but never seemed to grasp.Read Full Review of Archangel: Fiction | See more reviews from NPR
Andrea Barrett’s elegant new story collection, Archangel, feels like a dispatch from the moving front of scientific discovery. It spans the wake of Darwin’s theory to the aftermath of Einstein’s discovery of relativity.Read Full Review of Archangel: Fiction | See more reviews from Toronto Star
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