Jessica's Reviews > The Echo Maker

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
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's review
Oct 04, 2007

liked it
Recommended for: bird brains
Read in May, 2007

Flowers for Algernon for the new millennium!!!!!

Okay, not really, no. Well, maybe a little...?

The best parts of this book were those written from the perspective of a character with severe traumatic brain injury. The rest of it was good too, but the characters were never quite convincing enough for me to suspend my disbelief and actually care what happened to them. Of course, I was helplessly distracted the entire time by the Man Behind the Curtain. Does Richard Powers do all his own research? Where does Richard Powers live? Does he live in New York? Did Richard Powers haunt the neuroscience journal stacks of Columbia for two years while putting together this book? Because that is kind of what I was picturing. Also, for those who do not already know this, Richard Powers DOES NOT TYPE his novels. He hasn't in years. No, Richard Powers DICTATES his novels, using VOICE RECOGNITION SOFTWARE!!!

How can I POSSIBLY focus on what's going on in the novel, when I'm grappling with an image of THAT the whole time???

None of this is meant to imply that The Echo Maker is not engaging and absorbing fiction, because it definitely is. It is just not quite as engaging and absorbing as the idea of Richard Powers.

But let's face it, that's some stiff competition.

Does Richard Powers *really* know everything? Is Richard Powers a happy man? Is Richard Powers Richard Powers's real name? Does Richard Powers have children? Does Richard Powers have a dog? Does he love his dog? Does he love it more than he loves the children? Does Richard Powers really have the capacity to love, or is this somehow unusually difficult for him? Does Richard Powers feel smarter than everyone else? Does he feel smarter than his characters? If he really does know everything, it must be strange to write about people who do not. Can he empathize with them? Does he pity them? Or is he.... strangely, powerfully (!) jealous?

Is it a great burden knowing everything? When Richard Powers was in elementary school, did some other kids call him a know-it-all? When he was younger, did Richard Powers smoke cigarettes? Has Richard Powers ever taken drugs? What are Richard Powers's friends like? Are they also famous writers? Is Richard Powers pleased when he is referred to as being a "writer's writer," or do you suppose he sometimes wisfully dreams of being more of a "reader's writer"....?

Reading The Echo Maker will not definitively answer any of these questions. But if you read carefully, I'm sure you will notice some pretty big clues.
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06/21/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jessica P.S. I think that wound up coming out really snarky, like I think Richard Powers is some kind of a big asshole. But it really wasn't supposed to -- I'm serious about all those questions! I don't think he's a big asshole! That was really what i was wondering about while reading this book: Richard Powers!!!

message 2: by Paul (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:57PM) (new)

Paul Bryant I really have to find out who the hell Richard Powers. Maybe I'm Richard Powers. Hmmm.
Thanks for a very funny review


message 3: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:57PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jessica Well, it turns out Richard Powers does not live in New York. He lives in Illinois!!!

It also turns out that I'm officially one of those horrible people who automatically assumes anyone of interest must live in New York.

For shame, for shame....

message 4: by J (new)

J although this string is quite old, it is new to me. richard powers was an old rhet prof of mine at the university of illinois. he is the kindest man and is married to an equally kind woman - i recall him retelling stories of their time in denmark. and he told us of his technique...which blew my mind in 2001. voice recognition, what?!
he's not an asshole and there is no ounce of snark in him. however, he can totally kick jonathan franzen's pretentious new york ass.

Cassie You're review cracked me up. I actually have been skipping through the parts from Mark's perspective. I like the part from Karin's perspective.

message 6: by Olabidemi (new)

Olabidemi The information about the author will only be found in the front cover of the book. Some information you might be talking about are true. You might be have felt some tones of the author when reading the book, like when the women went to the hospital to see her boyfriend. Someway there is an irony. The irony is that when she tells him that she is there something starts to happen to him even though she is doing what she isn't suppose to do. First she was warned not to excite him. But through out, she excited him.
Someway by reading this book, I noticed that you can't judge the author. Some of the reviews you might have typed are not appropriate. In modern days, people use different types of technology for different things. This has improved the way we used to do literature.

message 7: by Antonomasia (last edited May 29, 2015 08:20AM) (new)

Antonomasia J wrote: "although this string is quite old, it is new to me. richard powers was an old rhet prof of mine at the university of illinois. he is the kindest man and is married to an equally kind woman - i re..."

Thanks (from several years in the future)for posting this comment. That's the impression I'd got from interviews. Nice to know it bears out in reality.

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