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Field Study

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Rachel Seiffert, author of The Dark Room, powerfully evokes our need for human connection in this dazzling and haunting group of stories. Set against immense political upheaval, or evoking the intimate struggles between men and women, parents and children, this astonishing collection charts our desire for love, our fragility, and our strength. From the title piece, in which a young biologist conceals his discoveries at a polluted river from a local woman, to the family aided by an enemy in “The Crossing,” to the old man weighing his regrets in “Francis John Jones, 1924–” Seiffert’s acclaimed, refined prose movingly captures the lives of her characters in their most essential, secret moments.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 14, 2004 – In clear, pared-down prose, Seiffert, author of the critically acclaimed novel The Dark Room, crafts 11 intimate stories echoing with the dissonances of family life and massive historical upheaval. Set mostly in post-Communist Europe, the stories often start with Seiffert's characteristic sentence fragments, reminiscent of stage directions: "Summer and the third day of Martin's field study," begins the title story, in which Martin, a biology student, spitefully withholds information about the pollution levels of a river he's studying from a woman who rejects his advances. Descriptions are similarly telegraphic: in "Reach," a hairdresser mother is startled into fresh awareness of her seven-year-old daughter when the girl is ill, then cuts school ("Just looking at the slope of her daughter's shoulders, the nape of her neck, her sodden hair"). Though her settings are sharply rendered, Seiffert often omits crucial bits of information, turning her stories into puzzles, sad games, as in "The Crossing," in which a mother and children are helped across a river by a man whose accent betrays him as an enemy in an unspecified conflict. In "Second Best," the last, longest and best story of the collection, Seiffert allows herself more specificity in time and place (Poland and Berlin, 1996), as well as a more complete exploration of her characters' thoughts and feelings. Disciplined, spare and unsentimental, these are accomplished, often moving tales.
Field Study
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Published: Jul 20, 2004
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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