"Orfeo": Science, Music, and the Meaning of Life

OrfeoOrfeo by Richard Powers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was excited when I learned Richard Powers had published a new novel. I've read his work before and appreciated many things in his stories: figurative language, music, science, and allusions that make you feel like you've accomplished something when you recognize to what the allusion alludes. All of this can be found in Orfeo as well. But ... unlike his other work I've read, this story was not as enjoyable. Far too much time was spent on the music side, and not the science side. And to fully appreciate the role of music in this novel, you would need a pretty darn good education in music, including history, theory, and composition. At times I felt confused by the way the story jumped back and forth between the protagonist's past and present - it is important not to forget what's happening in one timeframe till you can return to that timeframe further along in the story. Finally, while the novel reminded me of concepts put forth by Douglas Hofstadter in Godel Escher Bach An Eternal Golden Braid, I believe Powers could have better leveraged the relationships between science and the arts.

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