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Various Antidotes: Stories    by Joanna Scott order for
Various Antidotes
by Joanna Scott
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2005 (1994)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

In Various Antidotes, Joanna Scott, author of seven novels, offers short stories for hours of reading enjoyment. These tales, on diverse subjects, are held together by the quality of the writing. Scott, a consummate storyteller, whisks the reader away to uncharted waters to give us a look at how a few other people lived their lives. Both fictional and real characters people the pages with unusual occupations, whimsy, speculation, and brilliance.

There's a a man obsessed with the life he found under a microscope who realizes 'there was hardly a difference between discovering life and creating it.' Another man - whose life revolved around bees until he betrayed them - reminds us to never be overconfident. We meet an old woman of yesteryear living her days near Coney Island when a dime would buy her a milkshake. She did the math and realized that 'if you spend just two hours a day reading, in fifty years it adds up to an awful eight years and four months of precious time.' Another resident of this fine collection of stories had the dubious position of caring for research mice. It didn't do to cross her.

Whichever cleverly woven story fully captures your attention, I'm sure that all of them will remain in your thoughts.

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