Orfeo

Orfeo

A Novel

Book - 2014
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The author of the National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist The Echo Maker , Richard Powers "may well be one of the smartest novelists now writing" ( Los Angeles Times Book Review )

Seventy-year-old avant-garde composer Peter Els opens the door one evening to find the police on his doorstep. His home DIY microbiology lab-the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to extract music from rich patterns beyond the ear's ability to hear-has come to the attention of Homeland Security. Panicked by the raid on his house, Els turns fugitive, waiting for the evidence to clear him and for the alarm surrounding his activities to blow over. His days in hiding provoke memories of a turbulent century of musical turf wars and cause Els to reflect on a life spent chasing after transcendent sounds to the bewilderment of an indifferent public.

As the national hysteria for safety erupts again in the face of this latest threat, Els-the "Bioterrorist Bach"--feeling the noose around him tighten, embarks on a cross-country trip to visit the people in his past who have most shaped his failed musical journey. Through the help of these people--his ex-wife, his daughter and his long-time artistic collaborator-- Els comes up with a plan to turn this disastrous collision with the security state into one last, resonant artwork that might reach an audience beyond his wildest dreams.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, c2014
Edition: 1st Canadian ed
ISBN: 9781443422901
Branch Call Number: POW
Characteristics: 369 p. ;,24 cm

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Nblpearl
Sep 20, 2014

Powers consistently produces deeply intelligent novels of ideas - I find them humbling to read because the author knows so much and is always able to combine his knowledge with excellent writing. My favorite--and Powers' own favorite--of his is The Time of Our Singing. Here's a link to an interview I did with him in January, 2014:http://www.townhallseattle.org/richard-powers-with-nancy-pearlorfeo/

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lukasevansherman
Sep 18, 2014

I didn't really plan on reading this, I just happened on it in the lucky day section. I'll freely admit that Richard Powers is much smarter than I am and his use of classical music, technology, and science pretty much goes over my head. As with his earlier "Galatea 2.2," he updates a classical myth for the digital age, in this case the ever-popular Orpheus and Eurydice story. He's somewhat in the tradition of cutting edge, zeitgeist-savvy writers like Pynchon, DeLillo, and Gibson, and like them, he can be a bit cold and a bit too interested in being in the moment. There are 9/11 references, of course, as well as the Arab Spring, Oklahoma City, Lady Gaga, Bollywood movies, and contemporary classical composers that I know nothing about, Messiaen in particular. It's all very cerebral and impressive, but it doesn't work as a novel or really as a book of our times.

wbskinner Jul 25, 2014

Great book, only problem was I had to checkout all the music mentioned in the book.

Longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize

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