Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Orfeo: A Novel Hardcover – January 20, 2014
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Powers's talent for translating avant-garde music into engrossing vignettes on the page is inexhaustible. Els's obsession with avant-garde, which isolates him from everyone he loves, becomes the very thing that aligns him with the reader.
The earmarks of the renowned novelist's work are here... but rarely have his novels been so tightly focused and emotionally compelling.
Magnificent and moving. --David Ulin
Ambitious and profound. --Angela Carone
Will take your breath away. --John Domini
Will transport readers.
Powers deftly dramatizes the obsession that has defined Els s life: How did music trick the body into thinking it had a soul?' "
Powers is prodigiously talented. Besides being fearfully erudite, he writes lyrical prose, has a seductive sense of wonder and is an acute observer of social life . Why did I pick it up eagerly each day and find myself moist-eyed when I came to its last pages? That, I think, has everything to do with Powers s skill at putting us into the mind of his protagonist. --Jim Holt"
Powers s talent for translating avant-garde music into engrossing vignettes on the page is inexhaustible. Els s obsession with avant-garde, which isolates him from everyone he loves, becomes the very thing that aligns him with the reader. "
The earmarks of the renowned novelist s work are here but rarely have his novels been so tightly focused and emotionally compelling. "
Very well-written. "
Powers proves, once again, that he's a master of the novel with Orfeo, an engrossing and expansive read that is just as much a profile of a creative, obsessive man as it is an escape narrative. --Elizabeth Sile"
Orfeo is that rare novel truly deserving of the label lyrical' . Richard Powers offers a profound story whose delights are many and lasting. --Harvey Freedenberg"
Orfeo reveals how a life, and the narrative of a life, accumulates, impossibly, infinitely, from every direction . In this retelling of the Orpheus myth Powers also manages enchantment. --Scott Korb"
Orfeo establishes beyond any doubt that the novel is very much alive. --Troy Jollimore"
Magnificent and moving. --David Ulin"
Extraordinary his evocations of music, let alone lost love, simply soar off the page . Once again, Richard Powers proves himself to be one of our finest novelists. --Dan Cryer"
Ambitious and profound. --Angela Carone"
Will take your breath away. --John Domini"
Since reviewing Richard Powers's second novel, Prisoner's Dilemma, in 1988, I've had to keep track of his age so that, when asked who to read, I can say, "Powers. He's the most important living American novelist under" whatever age he happens to be at the time. Now he's 56, and I believe only (in alphabetical order) DeLillo, Morrison, Pynchon, and Roth all two decades older stand above him. Of novelists in Powers's generation with whom he is often compared Franzen, Vollmann, Wallace none equals Powers's combination of consistent production, intellectual range, formal ingenuity, and emotional effect. --Tom LeClair"
Few authors of contemporary fiction can surpass Powers. --Ted Gioia"
Will transport readers. "
Biology and music, past and present, come together in a clever, explosive resolution. --Adam Kirsch"
While it starts off with a thriller plotline falsely accused bioterrorist on the run Richard Powers's Orfeo constantly shifts gears. --Ron Hogan"
Powers is prodigiously talented, he writes lyrical prose, has a seductive sense of wonder and is an acute observer of social life. --Jim Holt"
Bravo, Richard Powers, for hitting so many high notes with Orfeo and contributing to the fraction of books that really matter. --Heller McAlpin"
Extraordinary [Powers's] evocations of music, let alone lost love, simply soar off the page. --Dan Cryer"
Of novelists in Powers's generation with whom he is often compared Franzen, Vollmann, Wallace none equals Powers's combination of consistent production, intellectual range, formal ingenuity, and emotional effect. --Tom LeClair"
For sheer bravado in constructing sentences, few authors of contemporary fiction can surpass Powers One of his finest yet. --Ted Gioia"
Powers writing is complex and heady without being head-achy, and his synesthetic descriptions of finding melodies in the mundane are full of their own kind of music. --Keith Staskiewicz"
An extraordinary feat makes the inaccessible comprehensible. --Andrew Leonard"
[T]he crowning achievement of this wildly imaginative Evanston native s distinguished career. "
A fascinating novel about the allure and power of music. "
Top Customer Reviews
Halfway through the novel, Powers mentions a piece I hadn't heard in many years: Terry Riley's In C, arguably the seminal work of American minimalism. So I found a recording on You Tube and played it as I read on, and kept doing this until the end, with composers such as Shostakovich, Harry Partch, or Peter Lieberson. The most striking was an almost hallucinatory sequence in which Els, on the run from the FBI, is in a college-town cafe. A piece is playing on the sound system: Proverb, Steve Reich's exploration of a text by Wittgenstein. I did not know this at all, so stopped to put it on.Read more ›
Powers's latest novel amply evidences all these qualities. The main storyline is about a music composer doing biotechnology in his garage as a hobby who flees from the authorities after they misunderstanding his tinkering. But this main story is almost a byline and the real purpose is to explore Peter Els's life and especially the river of music that has been his constant companion. Along the way we are treated to expansive, creative, several pages-long descriptions of famous music pieces like Mozart's Jupiter symphony, Mahler's Kindertotenlieder and Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Classical music aficionados will find these descriptions a treat and will gaze upon Powers's prodigious musical knowledge with wonder. Some of the renditions - like an exquisite unpacking of Steve Reich's eerie, haunting "Proverb" in a scene set in a college cafe - are mesmerizing. In fact it's worth listening to the relevant pieces either during or after the reading (there are two Spotify lists of the music on Powers's website).Read more ›
In her essay "On Beauty and Being Just," Elaine Scarry poses a question: "What is the felt experience of cognition at the moment one stands in the presence of a beautiful boy or flower or bird? It seems to incite, even to require, the act of replication. Wittgenstein says that when the eye sees something beautiful, the hand wants to draw it. Beauty brings copies of itself into being. . . . Sometimes it gives rise to exact replication and other times to resemblances and still other times to things whose connection to the original site of inspiration is unrecognizable." Scarry has much more to say about the experiences of beauty in our lives, but her constant point is that beauty is not useless and not escapist--that beauty moves us to make better lives, a better world, not just for ourselves, selfishly, but for all humanity.
Readers of Richard Powers's novels have become accustomed to his challenges--to the layered and complex issues his narratives raise and force us to consider, maybe contemplate, while we follow the fortunes and misfortunes of his characters. In his most recent novel, Orfeo, the composer/chemist hero, Peter Els, confronts many challenges to his youthful belief that making music is creating beauty--a belief that is decidedly out of fashion during his days as a student and young adult. When the novel begins, he is a retired teacher living with his aging Golden Labrador and engaged in a hobby based on his first college major, chemistry: that is, he is doing research into gene splicing because he is interested in whether music (the making of music, responses to music) is genetically determined.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fabulous. Best Powers book to date. More compact than "In The Time of Our Singing," and more personal.Published 4 months ago by linda von pfahl
Turgid!! Way too lengthy almost self indulgent, did not finish itPublished 5 months ago by deborah shulman
In his new novel Orfeo, Richard Powers looks at the genesis of a work of musical art from the inside out. Read more
It's a difficult read, you need to know scientific material and it's overly redundant or drags out to get to points. I didn't care for it.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Unless you have a very extensive understanding of music and want to read a novel that relates everything to theoretical music, take a pass.Published 8 months ago by Brian
When I put this book down at the end my first reaction was:
Wow. That was something.
Richard Powers knows how to write expansive, subject-throttling novels. Read more
A great novel, but only for musicians and those with a thorough knowledge of music literature, music history and harmonic practice. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
But Mr. Powers, why “Orfeo”? Orfeo charmed the world with his music; Peter despaired of having poisoned the world with music. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Teresa Neeman
Great book. I especially love the way Powers had this at the publisher, ready to go when Edward Snowden revealed the NSA. It's as if Powers had inside information. Uncanny.Published 9 months ago by urbanito