Orfeo

Orfeo

A Novel

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
5
Homeland Security becomes suspicious of composer Peter Els' microbiology lab, which he uses to find new and natural musical patterns, and when they come to his door, Peter panicks and runs away, becoming a fugitive. He then attempts to visit all of those who shaped his musical journey with the help of his ex-wife, daughter, and longtime collaborator. These experiences inspire Els to compose something that will open listeners up to the sounds all around them.
Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2014.
Edition: 1st Canadian ed. --
ISBN: 9781443422901
1443422908
Branch Call Number: FIC Power
Characteristics: 369 p.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

r
rodraglin
May 14, 2018

Burdened with excessive detail, Orfeo drifts to a predictable, melodramatic conclusion

Peter Els is a composer of new music, an old man, a adjunct professor who has been put out to pasture. When his dog, Orfeo, his only companion, dies suddenly he's so distraught he mistakenly calls 9-1-1. He abruptly ends the call which brings the police to his home only to find he's been passing his time cooking up variant biological strains in his kitchen laboratory.

Is this crackpot a bioterrorist? When the authorities come to investigate, Els goes on the lam.

Author Richard Powers has the narrative go back and forth between Els' past and the present until they converge. Gradually a picture emerges of the a man obsessed with music, music that sounds like noise to most people.

I was never sure if Els was a genius, delusional, lazy or just stubborn, but his obsession manages to wreck every career opportunity and relationship he comes in contact with.

As a protagonist Els is not sympathetic, he's frustrating.

Powers burdens the story with extensive passages about experimental music and minute details on musical composition. It's excessive and redundant as are his passages of transcendence the composer feels when in the thrall of his muse. The plot seems to drift as if the author wasn't sure where to take it and the conclusion is as predictable as it is melodramatic.

Throughout the book the author has inserted intrusive sentences presented in a different font and separated from the text by bold lines. I had no idea what the quotes were referring to, who they were by or what part they played in the story other than pulling me out of the reading experience.

n
Nblpearl
Sep 20, 2014

Powers consistently produces deeply intelligent novels of ideas - I find them humbling to read because the author knows so much and is always able to combine his knowledge with excellent writing. My favorite--and Powers' own favorite--of his is The Time of Our Singing. Here's a link to an interview I did with him in January, 2014:http://www.townhallseattle.org/richard-powers-with-nancy-pearlorfeo/

l
lukasevansherman
Sep 18, 2014

I didn't really plan on reading this, I just happened on it in the lucky day section. I'll freely admit that Richard Powers is much smarter than I am and his use of classical music, technology, and science pretty much goes over my head. As with his earlier "Galatea 2.2," he updates a classical myth for the digital age, in this case the ever-popular Orpheus and Eurydice story. He's somewhat in the tradition of cutting edge, zeitgeist-savvy writers like Pynchon, DeLillo, and Gibson, and like them, he can be a bit cold and a bit too interested in being in the moment. There are 9/11 references, of course, as well as the Arab Spring, Oklahoma City, Lady Gaga, Bollywood movies, and contemporary classical composers that I know nothing about, Messiaen in particular. It's all very cerebral and impressive, but it doesn't work as a novel or really as a book of our times.

wbskinner Jul 25, 2014

Great book, only problem was I had to checkout all the music mentioned in the book.

Longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at APL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top