“South Pole Station: A Novel” by Ashley Shelby— Problems

Shelby, Ashley. “South Pole Station: A Novel”, Picador, 2017.

Problems

Amos Lassen

Have you ever wondered what it takes to survive at the South Pole. Moist of us never even think about that part of the world and certainly as a place to live. The average temperature is 54 degrees Fahrenheit and there is no sunlight for six months of every year.

Cooper Gosling believes that she has what it takes to live there and although she is not sure that this is a positive quality, she nonetheless feels that she has nothing to lose by doing so. She is thirty years old and dealing with a family tragedy. Her career goal of being a painter is not working well and so she accepts a place in the National Science Foundation’s Artists & Writers Program and goes to Antarctica. There she comes into contact with others who are motivated by ambiguity like herself and the only thing that those who live at the South Pole have in common is that that they don’t belong anywhere else.

When a fringe scientist arrives, claiming climate change is a hoax, the group is shaken and the community there becomes part of a global controversy that threatens where they are and where they call home. This is a comedy of errors set in the last place you would expect to find one. Our story becomes one about “the courage it takes to band together when everything around you falls apart”. What I found here was that everything we deal with in our world today—science and politics; art, history and love are dealt with at the South Pole as well but with the addition of frostbite.

We meet the scientists, researchers, misfits, lovers, medics, plagiarists, cooks and artists who live in an insular society at the bottom of the world. This group of people might be misfits but we soon love them as we learn about family, grief, creativity and science. Quite simply, this is a fun read that mirrors the lives we lead but in a place where most of us would never consider living.

 

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