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Various Antidotes: A Collection of Short Fiction

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  58 ratings  ·  9 reviews
"A greatly gifted and highly original artist...Various Antidotes is purely and simply wonderful."--The New York Times Book Review

The miraculous, transformative stories of Various Antidotes range across the world of history and science, alighting on figures both real and imaginary. The stories within are those of obsession and brilliance, of the ultimately human recognition
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Picador (first published 1994)
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First thought: Oh Burke, we meet again!

(I first met William Burke, of the infamous Burke-Hare murders, in Mary Roach's Stiff. Here Scott offers an insight to his mind.)

Scott's use of science facts and trivia to scaffold her story is enjoyable, considering that this collection is more about characters. Van Leeuwenhoek's daughter's tears? Wow. Also, Charlotte Corday? Yes. Scott's women are delightful. Let's have more women—women who cook, who nurture, who teach, who mourn, who murder, who don't ha
Torea Frey
Usually I find some prosaic quote to extract from the book I'm reading, for your supposed pleasure but really to console myself with the beautiful words of others, but with Joanna Scott, I've found it hard. These short stories are so strange and self-contained that some one-off about hanging an elephant or bees stinging their faithful keeper to death or unleashing thousands of mice upon a town would just be ... odd.

Oh, who am I kidding. The last line of the last story: "Everything alive waited
Ryan Smith
I feel like 2 stars is low, but I couldn't justify the 3-star statement that 'I liked' this book. I didn't hate reading it, I didn't have to force myself through but I found very little enjoyment in it.

My biggest gripe is that while the book is very well-written, is that it holds a premise that I at first thought was fascinating and full of potential, but ultimately it suffers from some kind of lack of ambition. There's a certain comfort level Scott never steps out of and I think it shows.

Some o
I don't like it when reading feels like work. Some of these stories fascinated me ("Concerning mold...," "The Marvelous Sauce"), but many rubbed me the wrong way, and I think this was a result of the way they were narrated. The Dorothea Dix story, for example.
Julia Brown
I put Joanna Scott in the same universe as Steven Millhauser - their default authorial voices are often encyclopedic and authoritative. They often use historical settings, or they set their stories in other, alternative presents.

Dorothea Dix: Samaritan is the standout in this collection for me. The wheel in this story turns imperceptibly, and yet, by the end, you're in a very different place from where you started.

I also enjoyed X Number of Possibilities.
I am much more a fan when Scott writes novels; when the characters are allowed to develop over a few hundred pages. The multiple stories about heartless people and animal abuse probably turned me off the most.
Pam Porter
Some of the stories are interesting and some are just weird. Also, the fix of factual science history and fiction for the creation of art was a strange mix that I had trouble getting used to.
I don't usually like short stories, but this book worked for me because there was a common theme throughout the stories. If you like scientific and wierd, you should like this.
For literary science dorks with short attention spans.
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from the backcover:
Joanna Scott is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Rochester. She has also taught in the creative writing programs at Princeton University and the University of Maryland. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship during the writing of Arrogance.
More about Joanna Scott...
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