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The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
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The Echo Maker (2006)

by Richard Powers

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English (85)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Enjoyable, though a bit too long. I didn't really buy the subplot about Dr. Weber's personal struggles, and there were many little ways in which things felt unresolved at the end. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
This is a "can't put it down" kind of book. It misses out on 5 stars because sometimes the author gets a little too caught up in himself, and for certain aspects of one character which are not really a flaw of the book at all but which made it a little less enjoyable for me.

After reading what others have written about this book, I'd like to add to my review: I actually found the complicated emotional things going on in the book more interesting than all of the scientific discussions. For me, at least some of the detail in those scientific segments was beside the point. I did like how the author showed the characters' very different points of view and motivations. I felt their frustrations with the situation and with each other right along with them. What Karin goes through is so interesting. The position she finds herself in... exploring that and her relationship with her brother... I found that really unique and interesting--compelling stuff. ( )
  tercat | Nov 19, 2013 |
I had a difficult time with this novel, if only because after the first quarter, it seemed to start repeating itself. Brother cannot recognize sister -- repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, ad nauseum. Famous neurologist comes and studies, is haunted by thoughts of brother, repeat, repeat, repeat. Sister is frustrated by brother not recognizing her, repeat, repeat, repeat. Sigh. ( )
  amandacb | Aug 7, 2013 |
The most remarkable thing about this complex, satisfying, hopeful but for the right reasons story is the way that themes move through the portions by each narrator in migration patters mimicking that of the sandhill cranes passing through the landscape in which the story takes place. Responsibility for family versus personal desires and attractions, identity conflicts versus volition, ecology versus development, public identity versus private - the novel can be read, enjoyably, along each of these lines or simply as a story about family, its habits and its loves - all circle, all converge, all relate to the circumstances of tragedy (car accident, water supply deficits, the September 11 attacks) but all, in the end, come back to love.

I'm still unpacking all the many aspects of the novel, but I'm trying to think of each one in terms of the title. It's such a strange phrase: Echo Maker. Not sound maker, not music maker, not noise maker, not maker of something others can see or echo of something in particular. Why Echo Maker? I can't tell you the most obvious reason without spoiling the thread of mystery that begins with a note found in a hospital room, but I can tell you that, as the responsible yet unconfident sister, the head-injured brother, the neurologist observing him, and the cranes themselves narrate portions of the story, each is trying not so much to make a sound as to create an answer. The sister wants affirmation, the brother an answer to what has happened and why things seem off, wrong somehow; the neurologist wants his work to be understood for what it is rather than strictly as science or strictly as publishable narratives, and the cranes, most mysterious of all, seek the memory of places as they flow from north to south and back again, echoes left by genetics and behavior over thousands of years. It's a powerful image, the Echo Maker, and it circles through each narrative in migration patterns of its own.

In the end, the story shows us that all life, all mind, is echo making. Identity itself is little more than the received impression we interpret after acting, communicating, thinking, and doing over a lifetime. And yet, identity is no small thing; it is a beautiful thing; it is the thing we can best create, and the thing we must strive to create. It may seem hopeless. The cranes don't understand that the stress they feel, cramming themselves into what little space humans have left them, will eventually hurt their whole species, just as humans, specifically in this story and generally in the world, seldom see the entire interconnected picture of causes and effects, habits and leaps. But in the end, the cranes will adapt, or something will, and in the end so will we, somehow overcoming the stress that causes us to commit horrors in the world quickly or slowly, somehow adapting to the asynchronous, discontinuous facts of our neurology and our quotidian existence, somehow creating a pattern that has meaning and beauty.

The echoes this book has left with me haunt me, like strains from an intricate symphony still recalled, still elaborated, still reverberating. I can't imagine a reader passing through this book unchanged - or uninspired. ( )
1 vote Nialle | Jul 11, 2013 |
annoying characters, forced writing ( )
  lxydis | May 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Powers does a beautiful job with these characters, as we see each of them navigate through their self-preoccupations, their histories (shared and not) and where their own needs intersect with others.
 
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Epigraph
To find the soul it is necessary to lose it.
- A. R. Luria
Part One:

We are all potential fossils still carrying within our bodies the crudities of former existences, the marks of a world in which living creatures flow with little more consistency than clouds from age to age.
- Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey, "The Slit"
Part Two:

I know a painting so evanescent that it is seldom viewed at all.
- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Part Three:

I once saw, on a flowerpot in my own living room, the efforts of a field mouse to build a remembered field. I have lived to see this episode repeated in a thousand guises, and since I have spent a large portion of my life in the shade of a non-existent tree, i think I am entitled to speak for the field mouse.
- Loren Eiseley, The Night Country, "The Brown Wasps"
Part Four:

What was full was not my creel, but my memory. Like the white-throats, I had forgotten it would ever again be aught but morning on the Fork.
- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
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Cranes keep landing as night falls.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Richard Powers (Evanston,Illinois, 1957) a scritto anche (pubblicati in Italia): "Tre contadini che vanno a ballare"; "Il dilemma del prigioniero"; "Galatea 2.2"; "Il tempo di una canzone".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312426437, Paperback)

Winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction
 
The Echo Maker is "a remarkable novel, from one of our greatest novelists, and a book that will change all who read it" (Booklist, starred review).
 
On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, twenty-seven-year-old Mark Schluter has a near-fatal car accident. His older sister, Karin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when Mark emerges from a coma, he believes that this woman--who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister--is really an imposter. When Karin contacts the famous cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber for help, he diagnoses Mark as having Capgras syndrome. The mysterious nature of the disease, combined with the strange circumstances surrounding Mark's accident, threatens to change all of their lives beyond recognition. In The Echo Maker, Richard Powers proves himself to be one of our boldest and most entertaining novelists.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:20 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Twenty-seven-year-old Mark Schluter, suffering from a rare brain disorder that causes him to believe his sister to be an impostor, endeavors to discover the cause of the motor vehicle accident that resulted in his head injury.

» see all 6 descriptions

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