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Starred Review. A truck jackknifes off an "arrow straight country road" near Kearney, Nebr., in Powers's ninth novel, becoming the catalyst for a painstakingly rendered minuet of self-reckoning. The accident puts the truck's 27-year-old driver, Mark Schluter, into a 14-day coma. When he emerges, he is stricken with Capgras syndrome: he's unable to match his visual and intellectual identifications with his emotional ones. He thinks his sister, Karin, isn't actually his sister—she's an imposter (the same goes for Mark's house). A shattered and worried Karin turns to Gerald Weber, an Oliver Sacks–like figure who writes bestsellers about neurological cases, but Gerald's inability to help Mark, and bad reviews of his latest book, cause him to wonder if he has become a "neurological opportunist." Then there are the mysteries of Mark's nurse's aide, Barbara Gillespie, who is secretive about her past and seems to be much more intelligent than she's willing to let on, and the meaning of a cryptic note left on Mark's nightstand the night he was hospitalized. MacArthur fellow Powers (Gold Bug Variations, etc.) masterfully charts the shifting dynamics of Karin's and Mark's relationship, and his prose—powerful, but not overbearing—brings a sorrowful energy to every page. (Oct.)
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This novel, a finalist for the National Book Award, addresses the question of how we know who we really are. Mark, who repairs machinery at a meat-processing plant, suffers a head injury that prevents him from recognizing his sister Karin; he believes that she is a look-alike sent to spy on him. Karin, who has spent her life trying to escape their small Nebraska town, returns to old lovers and habits she thought she'd renounced. Stung by Mark's rejection, she sends a desperate plea to an Oliver Sacks-like neurologist whose popular books have suddenly come under critical attack, causing fissures in his public persona and his seemingly perfect marriage. Powers's smooth coincidences and cute patter can be unconvincing and leaden, and he has a tendency to lapse into distracting repetitions. Yet his philosophical musings have the energy of a thriller, and he gives lyrical, haunting life to the landscape of the Great Plains.
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Huge disappointment. This book was so painful - the plot is plodding and horrifically slow. Several reviews say there is a surprise ending that has to do with a minor character -... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Chicago
A powerful novel that takes the reader on a voyage into human consciousness and identity, and how the damaged brain attempts to reintegrate its identity, often in ways that seem to... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Donald F. Arseneau
As a cognitive psychologist, I loved this well written exploration.....Published 1 month ago by Celeste P. Jones
I have mixed feelings about this book. The writing itself is excellent, so if that's what you're looking for, maybe the book is for you. Read morePublished 2 months ago by pmm_kens
Very esoteric book, I had to force myself to complete it. True, there's a message behind the story, but not a book I'd recommend.Published 3 months ago by Piyushi
Richard Powers seems to have found a niche for himself as a writer of intelligent science-based fiction, and I highly enjoyed an essay of his I stumbled across in a past edition of... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Duane Schneider
Amazingly addictive book, considering the at first unengaging subject matter and characters. Just fabulously well-written, if a bit long drawn out. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Thorunn Patricia Sleight
Neurology studies are very interesting. Premise is good. Capgras Syndrome. However, by the time you get to page 300, you no longer care about the main characters or their... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Bert Ouellette