A draft of Amy Bishop's unpublished novel, obtained by the Globe, is a racy Boston- and Brazil-set thriller that aspires to be "The Hot Zone'' or "On The Beach.''
The book, "Amazon Fever,'' has an eerie quality in the context of the events of the past week involving the University of Alabama at Huntsville professor. The book's heroine, Olivia, is trying to make it as a scientist during a pandemic, struggling mightily against depression and fear of losing tenure. She muses about the poet Sylvia Plath and her suicide -- and continually worries about her future.
"Although she was sure that Steve would be happy with the news, telling Steve [her boyfriend] that she was pregnant still felt like dropping a bomb, only because of the timing,'' Bishop wrote. "With her career breathing its last and Steve’s business in economic ruin it was indeed the worst time.''
The Alabama school is mentioned in the book as the MIT of the South, and a James Anderson, Bishop's husband's real name, is mentioned as a crack genetic sequencer at the university. The book takes swipes at Harvard, from its snotty bartenders to a phone number of a talk show given five times in one paragraph.
In real life, that number -- 617-432-5555 -- is the Harvard Medical School's confidential Research Compliance Hotline. A recorded message sounded when the number was dialed this afternoon.
In a dream sequence, the heroine pictured herself as a tenured professor, surrounded by her parents and her sister. "She felt warm, happy, fulfilled and yet she knew it was just a dream.''
On the beat
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