Monday, October 30, 2006

Powers, etc

Recently I've only found time to blog on weekends, and I missed even that this past weekend. I have a bunch of things awaiting my attention that I hope to post sooner rather than later (including long-gestating posts on Despair and The Sleepwalkers, both of which are well past their sell-by dates).

In the meantime, I finished reading Richard Powers' new novel, The Echo Maker, yesterday. It's a very fine book and definitely of a piece with Powers' ongoing themes and concerns. Here he returns to an essential set of questions running through almost all of his fiction: who are we? how do we narrate ourselves to ourselves? how can we possibly recognize other people, and relate to them, when we can barely maintain ourselves (our "selves") from moment to moment? I may have more to say about it later, time permitting.

For more on The Echo Maker, be sure to take a look at the excellent five-day roundtable discussion over at Return of the Reluctant (parts one, two, three, four, and five, the last of which features Powers' own comments responding to points made by the roundtable participants). Also, at Conversational Reading, Scott Esposito responds to the William Deresiewicz lame attack-review in The Nation, which I talked about here (and Ed here).

On a somewhat related note, at The Pinocchio Theory Steven Shaviro reviews a science fiction novel by Peter Watts, called Blindsight, which is "a space opera, and a First Contact novel, and a vampire novel — and also a philosophical novel about the nature of consciousness." Shaviro then discusses at length the novel's exploration of consciousness. The novel sounds fascinating, and Shaviro's post is very interesting. Waggish responds with a thought-provoking post of his own.



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