“A grand novelgrand in its reach, grand in its themes, grand in it patterning . . . If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century . . . he'd probably be the Herman Melville of Moby-Dick. His picture is that big.” Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books
“A brilliant novel . . . A vision of wonder.” The Boston Globe
“Fascinating . . . In the end we see what Powers, with his beautiful language and broad reach, always wishes to have us see: the eternal mystery of human personality and how it functions in the extreme drama of the modern world.” O, The Oprah Magazine
“A kind of neuro-cosmological adventure . . . an exhilarating narrative feat . . . Powers is a formidable talent, and this is a lucid, fiercely entertaining novel.” The Washington Post Book World
“A wise and elegant post-9/11 novel . . . The mysteries unfold so organically and stealthily that you are unaware of his machinations until they come to stunning fruition. . . . Powers accomplishes something magnificent.” Colson Whitehead, The New York Times Book Review
“Powers may well be one of the smartest novelists now writing. . . . In The Echo Maker, Powers hopes to plumb the nature of consciousness, and he does so with such alert passion that we come to recognize in his quest the novel's abiding themeWhat it means to be human will forever elude us.” Los Angeles Times Book Review
“One of the year's most engrossing.” Entertainment Weekly
“[Powers's] characters are unforgettable, flesh-and-blood individuals as finely drawn as those of any contemporary fiction writer.” Steve Weinberg, The Seattle Times
Richard Powers's new novela kind of neuro-cosmological adventureis an exhilarating narrative feat. The ease with which the author controls his frequently complex material is sometimes as thrilling to watch as the unfolding of the story itself.
The Washington Post
A truck jackknifes off an "arrow straight country road" near Kearney, Nebr., in Powers's ninth novel, becoming the catalyst for a painstakingly rendered minuet of self-reckoning. The accident puts the truck's 27-year-old driver, Mark Schluter, into a 14-day coma. When he emerges, he is stricken with Capgras syndrome: he's unable to match his visual and intellectual identifications with his emotional ones. He thinks his sister, Karin, isn't actually his sister-she's an imposter (the same goes for Mark's house). A shattered and worried Karin turns to Gerald Weber, an Oliver Sacks-like figure who writes bestsellers about neurological cases, but Gerald's inability to help Mark, and bad reviews of his latest book, cause him to wonder if he has become a "neurological opportunist." Then there are the mysteries of Mark's nurse's aide, Barbara Gillespie, who is secretive about her past and seems to be much more intelligent than she's willing to let on, and the meaning of a cryptic note left on Mark's nightstand the night he was hospitalized. MacArthur fellow Powers (Gold Bug Variations, etc.) masterfully charts the shifting dynamics of Karin's and Mark's relationship, and his prose-powerful, but not overbearing-brings a sorrowful energy to every page. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Powers (The Time of Our Singing ), who has won a Lannan Literary Award and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction, here investigates the mystery of traumatic brain injury. Set in small-town Nebraska near the bird-watching spectacle of Platte River, Powers's ninth novel centers on the life of 27-year-old Mark Schluter, who is unable to recognize his sister, Karin, after suffering a near-fatal accident. Desperate for clarity, Karin turns to world-renowned cognitive neurologist and writer Gerald Weber (reminiscent of the real-life Oliver Sacks). Cleverly, this novel isn't simply about Mark's damaged brain (he appears to suffer from a rare case of Capgras syndrome); instead, it sheds light generally on the human mind and our struggle to make sense of both the past and the present. Echo Maker is both mystery and case history as Mark struggles to investigate his accident through an anonymous note and Weber attempts to sort through the nuance and plasticity of the mind in his own declining years. Powers bounces back and forth through Mark's rambling thoughts, Weber's neurological theories, Karin's insecurities, and wonderfully poetic details of the cranes on the Platte River. Recommended for large public libraries.-Stephen Morrow, Columbus, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The theme of cognitive disorder, variously explored in Powers's forbiddingly brainy earlier fiction, is the central subject of his eerie, accomplished ninth novel. An image of sand-hill cranes migrating from Nebraska's Platte River sets the scene, where 20-something slaughterhouse-worker Mark Schluter crashes his truck in an adjacent field, sustaining severe bodily and neurological injuries. Repeating an all-too-familiar pattern, Mark's older sister Karin leaves her job and life in Sioux City to be with him-stirring up memories of their shared childhood in thrall to a violent, alcoholic father and religious zealot mother. But Mark (whose inchoate, terrified viewpoint is rendered in a rich melange of semi-coherent thoughts and visions) no longer knows Karin; he is, in fact, convinced she's a stranger masquerading as his sister. Eventually, he's diagnosed as suffering from "Capgras syndrome . . . one of a family of misidentification delusions." But Mark's symptoms elude the pattern familiar to Gerald Weber, a prominent New York cognitive neurologist and bestselling author, summoned by Karin's importuning letter. Weber's "tests" fail to relieve or explain Mark's delusive paranoia, and Karin turns first to the siblings' former childhood friend Daniel Riegel, long since estranged from Mark, now a deeply committed environmental activist; then to her former lover Robert Karsh, a manipulative charmer who has risen to local prominence as a successful developer. Contrasts thus established seem pat, but Powers explores the mystery surrounding Mark through suspenseful sequences involving his raucous drinking buddies (who may know more about his accident than they're telling); compassionate caregiverBarbara Gillespie; and the unidentified observer who left a cryptic message about Mark's ordeal at the patient's hospital bedside. Issues of environmental stewardship and rapine, compulsions implicit in migratory patterns and Weber's changing concept of the fluid, susceptible nature of the self are sharply dramatized in a fascinating dance of ideas. One of our best novelists (The Time of Our Singing, 2003, etc.) once again extends his unparalleled range.