The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett

Posted on October 14, 2007  Comments (0)

The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett. Review by, Andrea Barrett:

Andrea Barrett is a lyrical novelist of the American past, giving life to pioneers in science with such resonance that even readers who wrestled mightily with chemistry come away entranced by her evocative accounts of discovery.

The winner of a MacArthur fellowship and the National Book Award (for the 1996 short-story collection Ship Fever) and a Pulitzer finalist (for the 2003 Servants of the Map), Barrett is taken with an earlier time, when the country was much smaller and exploration – pushing boundaries in science, geography and knowledge – mattered far more than it does today. Science moved the country forward and outward, and into the greater world.

In this age, and in Barrett’s writings, scientists are holding the lamp to lead Americans out of the darkness, and patients away from death. (Curiously, this is the second novel in a year to refer to the diminutive electrical pioneer Charles Steinmetz, a major figure in Starling Lawrence’s The Lightning Keeper, an equally romantic, though less taut and accomplished, novel.)

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