He is breathing better and the doctors say his lungs will recover, but he can’t remember his appointments or where he put his keys.
It has been months since the surgery and the scars are fading, yet she still wakes almost nightly to the sound of phantom alarms.
Those are the sorts of stories I heard one morning at a support group for patients who had survived a critical illness and their family members. It seems simple — a few doctors, a social worker, a psychiatrist, former patients and their husbands and wives, a conference room, pastries, coffee. In a way it was. But this was the first time that many of these men and women had been asked to talk about their struggles after critical illness with those who’d shared similar experiences.
And it was among the first times that I — then a doctor in my final year of critical care training — had heard directly from them about their lives after the I.C.U.
I don’t eat fish. And before I explain why, let me state upfront that I’m not aiming to shame fish eaters. I’m not an activist or an alarmist. I’m an early-career fish biologist—specifically, a physiologist who studies the impacts of environmental stressors on fish energetics and behaviour.
My fieldwork has taken me to the Caribbean, to oil-contaminated rivers in Trinidad, to small lakes in Uganda, and to the Great Lakes. I spend most of my days in a laboratory in Montreal, measuring swimming and metabolic performance in African fish species, and catching up on the latest studies in marine and freshwater biology. Many of my friends work in related fields, such as fisheries management, hydropower, and pollution and sustainability in aquatic systems. Over the past nine years, I’ve seen, read, and heard about what happens to fish before it ends up on our plates. And now, whenever my friends order sushi takeout, or my dad enjoys his breaded fish fillets, or even when my cat eats his “seafood medley” dinner, I get nervous—not just for the fish, but also for my loved ones.
“Hey, wanna see something cool?”
Allan Stypeck, barreling down the bookstore aisle.
Big guy, barrel-chested, pushing 70, thinning white hair, heavy with the New York accent (Brooklyn, with a shade of Long Island). Leans in close, a little conspiratorial thing going on: “Wanna come see this?”
Look, hey, it’s an invitation I can’t refuse.
One of the great lessons of Madame President is that an enormous step backward sometimes motivates nations, and women, to press forward. “Little girls do not come out of the womb vowing to become activists for female power,” Cooper writes in the book. “They don’t spend their childhood thinking about how they will repair the indignities, large and small, that bleed women daily. It’s a series of things that multiply and turn ordinary women into movements of female determination.”
“There are more and more women politicians across the continent,” said Cooper. “To understand how big a deal [that is] you have to understand how patriarchal the continent is. But at the same time, it’s always been the market women — the women with the buckets of oranges on their heads — who have run the economy throughout all these wars, throughout all of this. And now they’re realizing that they can translate some of that energy into politics, and that’s happening all across the place.”
Cooper’s voice is perfectly calibrated for this story, balancing cultural analysis, humor, beautiful turns of phrase, and a reporter’s objective detachment. This blend makes the toughest narratives in the book bearable and brings readers directly into the life of the girl who would be president.
Burdick ultimately is less concerned with external time — with the physics and math of cosmology — than with the biology, neuroscience and psychology of time. An award-winning science writer rather than a scientist, he feels emboldened by the current limits of scientific understanding. “If scientists agree on anything, it’s that nobody knows enough about time and that this lack of knowledge is surprising given how pervasive and integral time is to our lives.”
Not schooled in art history or appreciation, my way of overcoming the knee-jerk "a child could've scribbled that" response to abstract and experimental gallery work is to appreciate the way it forces me to interact with it. How does it linger against my eyes in after-image? How is it hijacking my senses, making me see things that aren't there? How does an artist's subtle engineering of space, light, colour, extend the canvas into my body and make material of me?
I think of this, among other things, while reading Frontier, because its subtlety is so careful and precise and its effect so wild and diffuse. It's difficult to talk about it except in effect — I find it necessary to write around it, to speak in spirals, because it isn't a story so much as an experience of walking through spider-webs and dew.