Diane's Reviews > The Echo Maker

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
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Jan 06, 09

Read in January, 2009

I chose this book to read because it takes place not far from where I used to live in Nebraska, and its subject matters are the sandhill cranes on the Platte River and the functioning of the human brain. Since others had rated it rather low, I had low expectations going into the read. But the main theme (How does one know who they really are?) was engrossing. With all the new information discovered on how the brain really works, and because of my personal situation, I can't help but realize how much the brain chemistry and individual functions of the brain have the major influence on one's personality. Any physical changes to the brain and zap, a new person exists.

In The Echo Maker, a major change occurs to the brain of a 27-year-old man during a car crash. The link from his amygdalla to the hippocampus is impaired so, although he recognizes the people(and his dog) who he loves, he sees them as imposters because he does not feel a connection to them (Capgrass Syndrome). From this, the author explores how others become separated from who they thought they were. I particulary found interesting the author's discussions on how the brain convinces itself its new thoughts due to changes to its parts are logical to its existing comprehension of itself--and when its efforts fail, how devastated the person becomes.

The author obviously researched his subject matter well. Of course, I recognized the obvious references to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, which, for me, made the book more enjoyable. The author also wrote well. Turns out the book received the National Book Award and has received other awards for books he's written. So next on my list to read by him is The Time of Our Singing.
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