Cover image for Servants of the map : stories
Servants of the map : stories
Barrett, Andrea.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2002]

Physical Description:
270 pages ; 24 cm
Servants of the map -- The forest -- Theories of rain -- Two rivers -- The mysteries of Ubiquitin -- The cure.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Spanning two centuries, an intricately woven collection of stories and novellas journeys across landscapes of yearning, awakening, loss, and unexpected discovery as the lives of extraordinary characters unfold in a borderland between science and passion.

Author Notes

Andrea Barrett was born on July 17, 1965. She has taught in the M.F.A. program for writers at Warren Wilson College, and has been a visiting writer at several other colleges and universities, as well as teaching frequently at conferences such as the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

She writes short stories and novels. Her short story collections include Servants of the Map, Archangel, and Ship Fever and Other Stories, which won the National Book Award in 1996 for the short story collection. She received the Distinguished Story Citation from Best American Short Stories in 1995 for The Littoral Zone and the 2015 Rea Award for the Short Story. Her short fiction has appeared in periodicals such as Mademoiselle and Prairie Schooner. Her novels include The Voyage of the Narwhal, Lucid Stars, Secret Harmonies, The Middle Kingdom, and The Forms of Water.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

MacArthur fellow Barrett writes with great empathy about naturalists, scientists, explorers, and healers, the heroes of her National Book Award-winning story collection, Ship Fever (1996), her magnificent novel, The Voyage of the Narwhal (1998), and now this equally spellbinding set of stories, which are knit unobtrusively to each other and her earlier books. In these complex yet ravishing tales of scientific pursuits stoked by loneliness and desire, Barrett ponders the spiritual toll associated with exile from home and loved ones, and conflicts between the passion for learning and the demands of love and family life. In the brilliantly subtle title story, Max, a shy English surveyor with a passion for botany, toughs it out in the dangerous and glorious Himalayas as part of the remarkable Grand Trigonometrical Survey of India, bitterly missing his wife and children even as he realizes that this is the life for him. In the gently poetic "Theories of Rain," a bright yet isolated young woman longs for sensual love and knowledge of the universe, while in two beautifully rendered stories set in the present, a molecular biologist named Rose finds that her work proves more reliable than human connections. Barrett's characters are deep and self-possessed, and their stories, so intelligently and delectably told, both romanticize and validate the quest for understanding life that drives scientists and artists alike. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Travelers, naturalists, nurses, botanists, surveyors a multitude of seekers and healers populate this luminous new collection of two novellas and four stories by National Book Award-winner Barrett (Ship Fever; The Voyage of the Narwhal). Tracking her wandering protagonists from the banks of the Schuylkill in Pennsylvania in 1810 to the Himalayas in the 1860s and on to New York's Finger Lakes in the late 20th century, Barrett elegantly portrays the transitory nature of life and love. Selected for Best American Short Stories (2001) and The O. Henry Awards (2001), the title novella follows young British surveyor Max Vigne on a long, arduous mapping expedition as he writes letters home to a cherished wife that become a chronicle of the distance that is growing between them. Partings and reunions of loved ones recur in these stories. In "Theories of Rain," a young orphan studying the mysteries of precipitation and passion yearns for the brother she was separated from as a child; in the novella "The Cure," a nurse at a village in the Adirondacks finds the brother she lost years ago and yet struggles to communicate with him. In the contemporary "The Forest," Barrett creates a lovely comedy of the inevitable gap of perspectives between an illustrious Polish scientist who has grown nostalgic with age and a young woman who yearns to break free of the past. The mark of Barrett's artistry is her ability to illuminate loneliness and isolation, but also to capture the improbably forged bonds between her disparate characters. Familiar figures appear and reappear in more than one story, and many readers will be able to make connections between these tales and Barrett's earlier works. Yet each is rich and independent and beautiful and should draw Barrett many new admirers. Author tour. (Feb. 1) Forecast: An elegant sepia-toned jacket and Barrett's rapidly growing reputation as one of the finest writers at work today will assure a substantial audience for this radiant collection. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Let's see if Barrett's new collection measures up to her National Book Award winner, Ship Fever. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Servants of the Mapp. 15
The Forestp. 69
Theories of Rainp. 97
Two Riversp. 119
The Mysteries of Ubiquitinp. 169
The Curep. 193