portrait of a scientist

They say that doctoring calls for a balance of art and science. But is that balance possible? For me the right-brained stuff is mostly instinct, and I work much harder to stay on top of the science, which requires a very different mindset.

Maybe because of that, I’ve noticed that there aren’t many great fictional renderings of scientists. Allegra Goodman’s wonderful novel, Intuition, is one exception. Goodman really gets the characters in her fictional research lab just right.

Last week I went to Elliot Bay Books to hear Seattle author Midge Raymond read from her new book, Forgetting English. She read a short story about a young female biologist studying penguins in Antarctica. Everything about it was terrific — the story’s color and pacing, the way Raymond used science as metaphor, and most of all her sympathy for her two main characters, the scientist and the penguins.

In the Q&A, Raymond told the audience she’d been to Antarctica but otherwise made it all up. Now that’s truly a feat of art.

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