by Alyson Foster
As botany professor Jess Frobisher clears space in her yard to build the greenhouse she’s always wanted, her mind begins to wander. It wanders, as it always does, toward Arthur, her colleague in the botany department. Arthur, who never believed she’d actually start the greenhouse project. Arthur, who in the aftermath of their affair, has cut off contact, escaping to the subarctic to study the pines.
Jess’ mind soon snaps back to reality when she learns the space tourism business founded by her engineer husband has experienced the worst possible disaster: A space shuttle filled with commercial passengers has exploded. Jess’ husband is implicated, and she knows he is withholding information from her. As the tragedy unfolds and the investigations are launched, an increasingly isolated Jess writes to the only person she can be candid with: Arthur. This updated version of the “epistolary” novel unfolds via Jess’ emails to her former lover, freighted with longing, regret, and the old habits of seduction. And though the reader never hears from Arthur, Jess certainly does. And Foster paints a vivid relationship via provocative email subject lines and references to unseen correspondence passing between them.
Foster earned her BA in creative writing at U-M; as a student she won a Hopwood award for her fiction. Foster lives in Washington D.C., where she works for the National Geographic library and writes for the National Geographic News Watch blog.