"I began [writing] as I sometimes do with a book [by jotting down] on a yellow legal pad all of the historical events that I've lived through that I've not dealt with in fiction," Roth explains. "When I came to polio, it was a great revelation to me. I never thought of it before as a subject. And then I remembered how frightening it was and how deadly it was and I thought, 'OK, try to write a book about polio.' "
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