by Richard Powers


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393240825
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/20/2014
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,106,678
Product dimensions: 11.50(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Richard Powers is the author of twelve novels, most recently The Overstory. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Book Award, and he has been a Pulitzer Prize and four-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. He lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.


Urbana, Illinois

Date of Birth:

June 18, 1957

Place of Birth:

Evanston, Illinois


M.A., University of Illinois, 1979

Customer Reviews

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Orfeo: A Novel 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
RodRaglin More than 1 year ago
Burdened with excessive detail, Orfeo drifts to a predictable, melodramatic conclusion Peter Els is a composer of new music, an old man, a adjunct professor who has been put out to pasture. When his dog, Orfeo, his only companion, dies suddenly he's so distraught he mistakenly calls 9-1-1. He abruptly ends the call which brings the police to his home only to find he's been passing his time cooking up variant biological strains in his kitchen laboratory. Is this crackpot a bioterrorist? When the authorities come to investigate, Els goes on the lam. Author Richard Powers has the narrative go back and forth between Els' past and the present until they converge. Gradually a picture emerges of the a man obsessed with music, music that sounds like noise to most people. I was never sure if Els was a genius, delusional, lazy or just stubborn, but his obsession manages to wreck every career opportunity and relationship he comes in contact with. As a protagonist Els is not sympathetic, he's frustrating. Powers burdens the story with extensive passages about experimental music and minute details on musical composition. It's excessive and redundant as are his passages of transcendence the composer feels when in the thrall of his muse. The plot seems to drift as if the author wasn't sure where to take it and the conclusion is as predictable as it is melodramatic. Throughout the book the author has inserted intrusive sentences presented in a different font and separated from the text by bold lines. I had no idea what the quotes were referring to, who they were by or what part they played in the story other than pulling me out of the reading experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With 30 pages left I finally realized that I could go no further.  I just didn't care.
PaqiPR More than 1 year ago
Richard Powers is brilliant, and I am not. I struggle a bit with his books, but the struggle is well worth it for the insights and beauty of the work. In the book, I was drowning a bit in trying to understand the music. Once I gave up trying to completely understand that, the book flowed. I can't quite decide if it shows me our modern world as terrifying or sublime, but I come away with a different--and undoubtedly more accurate--view of it than I had before.
MWgal More than 1 year ago
The book and the journey it takes you on are brilliant, musical, and soulful. Thank you, Mr. Powers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
only about 20% of the book had anything to do with the review. mostly rantings about music which only a PhD would understand. Very disappointing