Summer 2004 • Vol. XXVI No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 2004 |

The Sea of Information

I've always thought of myself as a writer more than usually dependent on news from the outside world. My imagination is nourished by old books, old bones, fossils, feathers, paintings, photographs, museums of every kind and size, microscopes and telescopes, plants and birds; I like to learn things and I thought—I still do think, although my ideas have darkened—that all this information feeds my fiction. It wasn't so strange, then, to find myself excited by the slim gray book stamped "Property of the City of New York" and titled What You Should Know about TUBERCULOSIS, which fell into my hands sometime during 1999. Inside it I found photographs of children deformed by tuberculosis of the spine, of a young man perched on a tenement roof, gazing at the tattered tent and cot in which he is "taking the cure at home, in summer," of a young woman on a similar roof, bundled in mittens and a thick coat, smiling as she sweeps the snow from around her tent while curing "on the roof in

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Andrea Barrett is the author of six novels, most recently The Air We Breathe, and three collections of short fiction, Ship Fever, which received the National Book Award; Servants of the Map, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Archangel, a finalist for the Story Prize. She’s been a MacArthur Fellow and a Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and has also received Guggenheim and NEA fellowships. She lives in western Massachusetts and teaches at Williams College.

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Olives

By Gail Galloway Adams

I've always thought of myself as a writer more than usually dependent on news from the outside world. My imagination is nourished by old books, old bones, fossils, feathers, paintings, […]

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