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The Echo Maker Powers, Richard ( Author ) Aug-21-2007 Paperback (Anglais) Broché – 21 août 2007

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Après l'excellentissime The time of our singing du même auteur j'attendais beaucoup mieux de The echo maker. Même si les relations entre les personnages sont toujours aussi fouillées et complexes l'histoire traîne en longueur sans raison et s'avère finalement bien sinueuse pour une fin somme toute sans grande surprise.
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Format: Broché
Je n'ai pas lu d'autres oeuvres de cet auteur, mais la lecture de "the echo maker" ne risque pas de m'en donner envie. C'est long, lent, (volontairement?) obscur, bourré de détails narratifs sans intérêt, et régulièrement entrecoupé de longs passages sur la migration des grues (on cherche en vain le rapport avec le thème principal du roman, un jeune homme atteint du syndrome de Capgras à la suite d'un accident de la route autour duquel il y a un vague mystère). Les personnages ne sont guère attachants, l'atmosphère est déprimante, la fin qu'on espérait un peu palpitante après les quelque 560 pages d'ennui qui y mènent est franchement plate. Certes, on apprend pas mal de choses sur les bizarreries du cerveau humain endommagé, notamment le syndrome dont souffre le personnage central (qui pense que sa soeur dévouée est en fait un sosie payé par le gouvernement) mais c'est cher payé par une lecture pénible et indigeste.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.1 étoiles sur 5 188 commentaires
68 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Why The National Book Award Doesn't Mean Much 7 décembre 2007
Par sbissell3 - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I always jump on a new Richard Powers novel as soon as it comes out in paper. However this time I was a bit anxious because `The Echo Maker' had won the 2006 National Book Award. If you want to see what I mean, go to the NBA's Web site ([...]) and see how many of the past winners you've read, enjoyed, or even heard of. For some reason the NBA normally goes to some incredibly boring jeremiad on the angst of being a middle class white man in America. While `The Echo Maker' is thankfully not that, it is my least favorite of all of Mr. Power's novels.

I'm not sure why literary critics like books like this. The plot is interesting and weaves, in Mr. Powers' normal fashion, elements of life, science, and philosophy in an articulate manner. However in his past books I always had the feeling that Mr. Powers really had a gut understanding of the science and was able to reflect on it in such a way as to make us see the relevance to everyday lives; this is not the case with `The Echo Maker.' You more or less get the feeling that the science, neurophysiology in this case, was a `cut and paste' from Web sites. Also at least some of the information about Sandhill Cranes, an important part of the plot, was either out of date or misinformed.

Having said all this I still recommend this book for many reasons. Richard Powers is in my opinion, one of the very best novelists writing in America today. His work is solid and will stand the test of time. Why his much superior previous works were not given the attention of this one I attribute more to the strange tastes of the literati than to Powers' talent. Obviously some Amazon readers really liked this book and one review said the important thing to me; if this is the first Richard Powers' book you read it will likely make you want to read more.
169 internautes sur 199 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "Everything dances." 31 octobre 2006
Par K. M. - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Is the self a smooth continuity of being, or a patchwork that shifts and rearranges to create an illusory but convincing image of unbrokenness? Exactly how reliable are our perceptions of our surroundings and experiences? Are human beings constitutionally unable to harmonize and harness their cognitive powers to the needs of the ecosystem that sustains them? If science's hypothesis that consciousness arises from organic brain function is true, where does that leave us spiritually?

THE ECHO MAKER considers these and other hefty questions within the framework of a sophisticated story about a young Nebraska slaughterhouse machine mechanic, Mark Schluter, who suffers head injuries when his truck overturns at eighty miles an hour. When he awakens from a coma, his only surviving family -- his sister -- is a stranger to him. This is not a case of "typical" amnesia. He remembers his sister, but he feels no affinity or love for, no connection to, the woman in his hospital room who looks like her. He has the same impostor feeling about his faithful dog. Diagnosed with the extremely rare condition called Capgras syndrome, he soon attracts the attention of world-renown cognitive neurologist, Gerald Weber, who comes to interview and test Mark.

As the novel progresses, Mark, sister Karin, and Gerald grapple with dissolving and re-forming self images. Mark's deficit evolves over a year's time, so Capgras doesn't become his only claim to fame in the medical literature. But perhaps even more interesting are the psychological convulsions that jolt Karin and Weber as they react to Mark's rearranging personality.

We meet Weber's wife, two buddies of Mark's, the men in Karin's life, a nurse's aide who makes an indelible impact on just about everyone. And we become awed voyeurs as masses of majestic, migrating cranes rest stop on the fading river near small town Kearney from Valentine's Day until about St. Patrick's. All play important roles in the measured, dense unwinding of THE ECHO MAKER.

Also at the heart and soul of the plot is a mysterious, nearly mystical message in a spidery scrawl Karin finds by Mark's hospital bed that begins "I am No One" and continues "GOD led me to you / so You could Live...." Who wrote it? Was it someone who saw the accident and can tell Mark why he swerved off the road? Does it transmit some transcendent meaning to and for the characters?

Having read Richard Powers' PLOWING THE DARK, I'm familiar with his techniques of welding at-first-glance-unrelated subjects together. THE ECHO MAKER achieves an amalgamation earlier and with more impressive effect. Nevertheless, after both books, I felt emotionally distanced. It is as if the author's cerebral strivings smother other potential gifts to the reader. There is an arty unreality to some of the conversations and situations in ECHO: for example, the "cute" shorthand between Weber and his wife can be cloying and patience-testing (although, overall I did enjoy their marital bond). Furthermore, Power's language leans to the pretentious and flirts with narrative hyperventilation in places.

In THE ECHO MAKER, the basic plot, somewhat on the lean side for a book of 451 pages, is elaborated by educational information about cranes, myriad cognitive disorders, water politics, and the stream of self-absorbed intuitions of the main characters (who aren't particularly sympathetic individuals). While the leisurely pace of the characters' self-discovery and the plethora of technical and natural detail can be attributed to thoroughness of exploration, less might have been more. Smart, layered, skillfully subtle novels deserve wider readership. But they often don't gain that wider audience...perhaps because authors write 450 pages where fewer could suffice.

This novel is, at its heart, a study of consciousness: its determinants as defined by the scientific community; the suffering caused when its "normal" template is cracked or irreparably shattered by biological change; how any of us might, through mid-life crisis or other personal shakeup, face psychological realignment of our precious "selves." The novel also reminds us that the human race, as the earthly species with dominant brains/minds, is running out of the luxury of time to make decisions that will either cooperate with or decimate our environment and fellow living creatures. And we are reminded that even if the mind is a product of the brain, life is a wonder. As one character puts it, "Everything dances."

Yes, this is a exhaustive and magniloquent volume. It is also an unusual, intellectually invigorating novel, and a very worthy endeavor. Please give it a go.
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Almost quit, glad I didn't. You have to glean from this book. 2 mai 2010
Par Anastasia Hobbet - Publié sur
Format: Broché
About half-way through this book, I grew so weary of its repetitious and academic tone that I checked out the Goodreads and Amazon reviews, wondering if my reaction to it was just me. I'm vulnerable to that paranoia; but I found I had lots of company. Some people were ranting mad in their disappointment over this book. For some reason--stubbornness--I kept reading and ended up admiring the book. No, I don't think it didn't deserve the National Book Award, but there's mystery, keen and beautiful writing, and compelling speculation about the human mind and identity. As a birder, I loved the crane info too, tho I can see why it all the poetic images of them might seem blithering to many. Overall, the book fails. Powers fell prey after Gold Bug, I think, to a problem common to many phenomenally successful authors: His early brilliance intimidated his editors. They let him wander and detour and maunder on. They didn't keep him honest and true, didn't force him to put real life in his characters or think through his plot clearly. Powers' characters in this book--particularly Gerald Weber--are mere simulacra of real people. In Weber's case, this is a literal shortcoming, since Weber is based on the eminent neurologist Oliver Sacks. Neither Sacks nor his readers (Full disclosure: I love Sacks' books; his recent autobiography, Uncle Tungsten, is one of the finest I've read.) would recognize him here but for the rip-off of his appearance, his book titles and many of his case studies. If Powers had been doing the full work of imagining this character, Weber wouldn't be based on Sacks but inspired by him. Weber's head would be stuffed with human thoughts, not the cold substitutes Powers offers: case study after case study after case study. There was a great book lurking in the manuscript of The Echo Maker, but Powers' editors didn't bother to help him find it. Where's a brave editor when you need one?
19 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Schizophrenic feelings about this book 26 janvier 2007
Par Roni Jordan - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
At times this book fascinated me as a psychological/psychiatric mystery, along the lines of Oliver Sachs' "The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat", and when engrossed in those passages I couldn't put the book down. And then, Powers bogged everything down with the cranes and the dynamics of Weber's marriage and Karin's emerging doubts about her own identity, and I wanted to scream "get on with it!!!" While I did finish the book, it was only by speed-reading the final hundred or so pages to confirm my suspicions about who the mystery "Guardian" truly was. Disappointed to say that I sort of had it figured out, and was hoping for a conclusion more stunningly challenging. Others have complained about the lack of character development, and I have to agree - the characters are either stereotypical (as with Daniel the environmentalist) or merely there as props for plot advancement (Karsh, Barbara, et al). With those caveats, it was still an interesting read along the way, especially in the discussions of brain fractionalization. Recommended, with caution.
24 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 VERY long slog with no payoff 24 février 2007
Par Anonymous - Publié sur
Format: Relié
The other low star reviews have totally nailed it. Stephen's was great. Please consult them before you buy this book! I bought it on the strength of some media reviews and the National Book Award and felt like other reviewers that we couldn't have read the same book. Everything happens in the first 50 pages, but it goes on for 400 more. The writing is pretentious and phony. The characters really get on your nerves as the book goes on and on and on.... There's waaay too much backstory about the Weber character, his annoyingly menschy wife Sylvie (they address each other as Man! Woman! Husband! Wife!), their lesbian daughter Jess, their sex life...yada yada. He touches on some interesting concepts about the brain, consciousness, and identity, but you get tired of it when Mark doesn't recognize Karin for the umpteenth time and goes through the same "what did you do with my sister?" routine. The Mark character is wildly inconsistent - it's hard to believe that a twentysomething who works at a meatpacking plant, plays video games at an expert level, spent his pre-accident life customizing a Dodge Ram truck, and enlisted in the National Guard with little forethought -- obviously intended to paint a white-trash, dead-end personality profile -- would be capable of spouting off an articulate and insightful analysis of his sister's psyche, for example. He's all over the place and it really strains credulity. Powers wants to write about working class people, but he has to put words in their mouth that they would never say for expository purposes. I suppose the whole mystery about "the note" and the Barbara character kept me going, but it completely fizzles and you don't even care by the time you get there. He seemed to really go off the rails at the end into some experimental, free-form style where I got a little lost as to who he was talking about and what was happening, but admittedly I was counting the pages to the finish line at that point. I liked the part about the cranes, but unfortunately, they don't say much. I read literary fiction, appreciate Powers' talents, have some understanding of what he was trying to do, and enjoyed some of it, but it took me forever to get through this book and I just don't think it was worth the ride.
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