Read Generosity by Richard Powers Free Online
Book Title: Generosity|
The author of the book: Richard Powers
ISBN 13: 9781848871250
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 811 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1429 times
Reader ratings: 4.6
Edition: Atlantic Books
Date of issue: March 1st 2010
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Picked this up in the airport bookstore, and on the plane recalled that I DO like reading! So yeah, Pregnant Widow? Gate at the Stairs? That newish McEwan? I was beginning to think it was me, but it's not. It's just them, actually. I can still enjoy books. (Whew.)
It would be unconscionably perverse for me to waste any further limited precious moments of my too-short life on Solar, when I could be reading this awesome book instead. Sense of duty to finish, you are neatly dispatched! Thanks, Mr. Powers. You make me so happy.
So Richard Powers appears to have undergone some experimental form of gene therapy (or else possibly just had someone hit him in the head with a two-by-four) whereby he has traded in some measure of his wildly intimidating, aspergery brilliance for a dose of human empathy. This is a sweeter, nicer, simpler-minded Richard Powers who I really do believe now does love his characters, where in the past I wondered if he couldn't help looking down on them a bit for not knowing everything the way he obviously does.
The problem is that I still didn't love his characters nearly as much as he did, nor did I love them nearly as much as I loved him. I think a problem this guy might have is that Richard Powers's narrative voice is about twelve thousand times more compelling and great than any of the characters he ever creates. This may be why, of the three books of his that I've read, I only truly loved the one written in the first person. Whenever I start getting a bit bored with the people in Generosity, I'd be whipped back in and amazed by some authorial address. (Left my copy at work, but I'll add in some astoundingly great quotations later as an example of how this guy can really WRITE, holy hell, he can WRITE. [Or okay, maybe not really WRITE, but really TALK INTO HIS COMPUTER, as the case may be.]) The stuff this guy regularly busts out with is incredible, these sentences that are so funny, and so true, and so sad, and so intense, that it really knocks the wind out of me, and just leaves me reeling. I mean, he can just make these pronouncements about huge concepts like love, or the world, or history, time, humanity, writing, science, etc. that no one should get away with -- they're too big -- but he totally can.
I think he's less adept at the nuts and bolts of novel-writing -- character development, plot, etc. -- and I'm pretty sure he knows this about himself. Generosity is one of those somewhat deconstructed, seams-showing kind of novels where the author is hovering, agonizing a bit about the impossibility and artificiality of the story he's telling. That sounds a bit irritating, but it worked very well here. What didn't work for me was the characters, and also the fact that I don't find the basic subject particularly interesting. I mean, a lot of that's just personal. I don't find the idea of a genetic basis for mood very threatening or exciting, and I'm just in general not as moved by the whole future of genetics and bioethics as I guess maybe I should be. It doesn't naturally capture my imagination, and this book didn't make me care about those things any more than I did when I started.
The basic setup of this book is that it's about a sort of sad-sack writing teacher (one of two characters that felt solid and interesting to me, the other one being the TV journalist) in Chicago. He's got an Algerian refugee in his class who is impossibly generous and happy, despite having experienced a very traumatic life, and the plot unfolds from there. One of the problems with this book is that the girl's supposed to be so wonderful that everyone she comes in contact with loves her, but that's a really hard character to write without making her annoying. It's sort of like trying to have Helen of Troy in a movie. Impossibly beautiful characters work well in books, because the readers can just imagine them, but impossibly wonderful, generous, lovable ones are a lot harder, and she didn't work for me here. For awhile at the beginning I thought the point was going to be that the girl was all doped up on some new psychotropic drug, and I kind of liked that, but then when she wasn't, I got a bit bored and felt mostly annoyed or underwhelmed. There's a magnificent bit where he illustrates how happy and generous Thassa is by describing the film that she's made, and I really loved that part, but just describing her words and actions kind of made her seem perky and annoying, not magical or genetically freakishly wonderful. Of course, it's possible that I'm just a crabby bitch or missed the point here or something. I didn't really understand the ending, so maybe I missed something I was supposed to understand. There were quite a few things in this book, especially in the last quarter, where I was like, "What?" Like (sorry, spoiler alert) one character's brother having been struck by lightning. What? Why? Huh? Maybe this was just all over my head, as I did feel confused by some stuff toward the end.
I dunno, I didn't really feel that Powers was able to get enough tension going here so that I cared what happened. There was a conflict midway through with one character's career and personal relationships that drove a lot of the events but just seemed manufactured and boring to me. Ultimately, the immense excitement I felt at the beginning did not last, and I didn't wind up loving this book. However, I did love a lot of it, and I believe Richard Powers is a fabulous writer. He doesn't make the greatest characters, which I know's supposed to be important, but his narrative voice is so awesome and -- hahaha! -- powerful that it's not as big a deal as it normally would be. Yay Richard Powers! You're not perfect, but I love you! Maybe someday they can do something with his genes and manufacture the perfect writer who has all of his special talents and none of his flaws. I'd totally read that, but until then I guess I'm stuck with this version, and that's fine. I'm gonna read Galatea 2.2 next, since that seems to be the one everyone loves so much.
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Read information about the authorRichard Powers is the author of twelve novels, most recently The Overstory. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Book Award, and he has been a Pulitzer Prize and four-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. He lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Librarian note: There is more than one author with this name in the Goodreads database.
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