Notes on The Echo Maker by Richard Powers

  • Ostensibly it is a story about a mid-20s man who suffers a terrible car accident, slowly recovers only to believe that his sister, his dog and his mobile home are imposters. Capgras syndrome is what he was initially diagnosed with. 

  • The story follows a year of the lives of his family, friends and other interested parties who deal with the main character and this bizarre condition. 

  • At some points it felt too long. Richard Powers certainly had a lot to say. But other times I pushed aside other books to keep working on it. 

  • Powers is known as a very intellectual author. But for all the thinking and ideas he introduced, I felt the story had a lot of pathos. I felt for most of these people. 

  • The dialogue was good, realistic and non-cringe worthy. 

  • Powers deftly changed points of view.  Yet the narrators kept the main focus of the story shrouded in mystery. Especially the mysterious Barbara. 

  • It won the National Book award in 2006. 

  • A quote:

In a field two miles out of town, he passed a boxy green brontosaur combine that was ravaging the rows of standing corn. The fields gained a stark, minimal beauty in dying. Nothing could ever sneak up on you, here in these blank horizons. The winters would be the hardest, of course. He should like to try a February here. Weeks of snow-crusted, subzero air, the winds pouring down from the Dakotas with nothing to slow them for hundreds of mils. He looked out over a grain-fringed rise at an old farm just one upgrade beyond sod house. He pictured himself in one of these gray-white clapboards, connected to humanity by no medium more advanced than radio. It seemed to him, as he drove, one of the last places left in the country where you would have to face down the contents of your own soul, stripped of all packaging.