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Not-So-Fictional Yeast Genetics

Leonard, one of the characters in Jeffrey Eugenides' novel The Marriage Plot, set in the 1980s, is a biologist studying yeast genetics. In the book, Leonard's description of his work brought back memories for NIH's Amar Klar, reports The New York Times. "The detailed description was of his own work. The yeast studies were ones that had made his scientific reputation. The fictional laboratory sounded just like his old lab at Cold Spring Harbor, on Long Island," the Times adds, noting that the fictional lab was in Massachusetts.

Eugenides did not speak with any yeast geneticists while writing the book. He instead found videos of yeast to watch on the Internet. He did, however, briefly consult Princeton University's David Botstein and his lab before turning the book in, to get a sense of day-to-day life in the lab, and how Leonard might mess up an experiment. "Mr. Eugenides asked how someone would ruin an experiment. By mixing up the specimens, they told him," the Times says. "So in the book, Leonard does just that."

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