Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins
A Novel

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Synopsis

This poetic novel, by the acclaimed author of John Dollar, describes America at the brink of the Atomic Age. In the years between the two world wars, the future held more promise than peril, but there was evidence of things unseen that would transfigure our unquestioned trust in a safe future.

Fos has returned to Tennessee from the trenches of France. Intrigued with electricity, bioluminescence, and especially x-rays, he believes in science and the future of technology. On a trip to the Outer Banks to study the Perseid meteor shower, he falls in love with Opal, whose father is a glassblower who can spin color out of light.

Fos brings his new wife back to Knoxville where he runs a photography studio with his former Army buddy Flash. A witty rogue and a staunch disbeliever in Prohibition, Flash brings tragedy to the couple when his appetite for pleasure runs up against both the law and the Ku Klux Klan. Fos and Opal are forced to move to Opal's mother's farm on the Clinch River, and soon they have a son, Lightfoot. But when the New Deal claims their farm for the TVA, Fos seeks work at the Oak Ridge Laboratory -- Site X in the government's race to build the bomb.

And it is there, when Opal falls ill with radiation poisoning, that Fos's great faith in science deserts him. Their lives have traveled with touching inevitability from their innocence and fascination with "things that glow" to the new world of manmade suns.

Hypnotic and powerful, Evidence of Things Unseen constructs a heartbreaking arc through twentieth-century American life and belief.

 

About Marianne Wiggins

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Marianne Wiggins is the author of seven books of fiction including Almost Heaven, John Dollar, and Separate Checks. She has won an NEA grant, the Whiting Writers' Award, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.
 
Published June 11, 2003 by Simon & Schuster. 400 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Evidence of Things Unseen

Kirkus Reviews

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Still, the connection between modern science and Ray and Opal’s landscape can seem strained—“Like the Big Dipper, which has seven identifiable stars, the Tennessee pours through seven states”—and where would this story go if not to the tragedy of radiation poisoning for one of its principals?

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Publishers Weekly

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They move to land Opal inherits in rural Tennessee, but after it is claimed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1942, Fos finds a job in Oak Ridge with a government lab that, unbeknownst to him, is on deadline to create the atomic bomb that will be dropped on Hiroshima.

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Book Reporter

The name seems so appropriate to Ray's life obsession with light, since an opal reflects light so wondrously and Opal, the girl, seems the perfect match as Ray's life partner.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Evidence of Things Unseen : A...

The Best Reviews

A veteran of the worst atrocities of World War I including poison gas, Ray "Fos" Foster travels the American countryside carrying the scientific marvel, X-ray equipment.

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