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Bewilderment: A Novel von Richard Powers
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Bewilderment: A Novel (2021. Auflage)

von Richard Powers (Autor)

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5862931,813 (3.93)1 / 72
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Titel:Bewilderment: A Novel
Autoren:Richard Powers (Autor)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2021), Edition: First Edition/First Printing, 288 pages
Sammlungen:Noch zu lesen
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Bewilderment von Richard Powers

Kürzlich hinzugefügt vonnbmars, baremal, nancybeeflower, Feathered-Friend, euphorb, Appi, guilty, private Bibliothek, mevin, reelbigschmidt
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On a micro level, this book is a retelling of the devastating classic by Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon. On a macro level, this is a political and planet-level existential cautionary tale about the dangers of ignorant autocrats and environmental destruction.

The story opens when Robin Byrne is turning 9 years old, and ends just after Robbie turns 10. His mother Alyssa ("Aly") has been dead since Robbie was 7. Robbie's dad Theo, an astrobiologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, is raising Robin on his own. It is a challenge for a number of reasons, the most consequential being that Robin has anger and behavioral issues. He has been variously diagnosed with possible autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and OCD. Nevertheless, Theo resists any recommendation to put his son on psychoactive drugs. He thinks Robin’s behavior is justified given what has happened to him in his life, and besides, “life itself is a spectrum disorder, where each of us vibrated at some unique frequency in the continuous rainbow.”

Robbie is obsessed with the same crisis that occupied his mother, i.e., the rapid extinction of species subsequent to direct abuse by humans and secondarily by climate change. He constantly demands to know why no one is doing anything about it, and it is difficult for Theo to assuage him.

After Robbie’s school threatened “to get the state involved” over Robbie’s disruptive behavior, Theo asked for help from Martin Currier, a senior research professor in neuroscience, who was a friend of Aly’s. Martin was exploring the use of Decoded Neurofeedback (DecNef), which is AI-mediated feedback to help modulate behavior. Theo and Aly had done some brain scans to model some different emotional states as a favor to Martin, and these would presumably be among those used for Robbie's therapy. Soon after Martin began sessions with Robbie, Theo could see rapid changes for the better; even Robbie was aware of how he was being helped. Robbie and Theo had listened to the book Flowers for Algernon together, and Robbie pointed out the similarities between himself and Algernon.

Meanwhile, in the background, the country was increasingly tilting to the right, after the authoritarian presidential candidate insisted he won the election and usurped power from the presumptive electoral winner. His administration began taking anti-science measures and ramping up prejudice against those who were different, inter alia. Both Theo and Martin lost funding for their fields of study, and for Robbie, the inability of Martin to help him anymore proved devastating.

Evaluation: There is no end to the heart-breaking aspects of this story, on all levels - for the individual, the country, and planet-wide. It is hard not to find the book quite depressing. But it is a good story, and would make a great selection for a book club. There is much to discuss, from the ethics of experimentation to the way society treats those who are different, and to the many trenchant observations Robbie makes about human nature and life on earth.

Note: Bewilderment was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and longlisted for a National Book Award. Powers, whose novels reflect a brilliant understanding of science and technology, has won a number of awards in the past for his work including a MacArthur Fellowship (commonly known as the “Genius Grant”) and a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2019. ( )
  nbmars | Jan 17, 2022 |
Richard Powers has an incredible imagination, to put it mildly!! What a compelling story that managed to tie in a rather rightening vision of how close we are in our present time to the climate and political changes Theo was experiencing happening to the earth while he and Robin (Robbie) were being challenged with not only his wife's death but also with Robin's mental "events"---not sure what else to call them. Powers describes Theo's version of planets to his son with life forms that are so detailed -- just amazing versions of possibilities. Would the new Webb telescope possibly make Theo cheer that maybe all was not lost? ( )
  nyiper | Jan 5, 2022 |
The first Powers book I read was Echo Maker when it came out, and I was absolutely floored - Nebraska, Sandhill Cranes, philosophy of mind problems. Hit all my high notes. I then read him start to finish, and was continuously captivated by Power's explorations of mind, history and experience.

Like the rest of us, I am afraid Powers has taken a heart-breaking turn, as the techno-optimism has been replaced by absolute fear of and for the future.

Like the rest of us, Powers experienced 2016 to COVID, and this novel is the result. It is not a pretty story, or a happy story, but then neither is the truth.

I hope Powers writes long enough to express optimism about what is to come, again. ( )
  kcshankd | Jan 4, 2022 |
Voilà un livre qui embrasse tout l’univers. Tant que ça risque d’en être trop. Pourtant, Richard Powers semble réussir à rester sur le fil.

Dans une Amérique qui sombre dans la fin des année Trump (même s’il n’est jamais nommé), en plein effondrement environnemental (oui, nous y sommes), un père astronome spécialisé dans la recherche de vie extraterrestre se débat avec son fils et ses difficultés à gérer sa colère alors qu’ils sont les deux en plein deuil de la perte de leur femme et mère.

Ils tentent alors une thérapie expérimentale qui permettra à l’enfant de mieux gérer ses émotions à l’aide d’une intelligence artificielle. Après quelques approximations déontologiques dans le traitement, le livre sombre lentement, à l’instar de notre terre, dans une autodestruction qui semble inéluctable.

Sidération à la fin du livre ! Ne sachant si j’ai vraiment aimé, si je trouve le résultat kitsch ou brillant, candide ou convaincant… Oui, sidéré !

https://www.noid.ch/siderations/ ( )
  noid.ch | Jan 2, 2022 |
Richard Powers is one of my favorite authors, and I always read his new books shortly after they are published. I liked this one very much.

Theo Byrne is a college professor searching for extraterrestrial life. He is also a single father raising a special son, Robin, after the death of his beloved wife several years previously. When Rpbin begins acting out at school (after being bullied), the school tries to push Theo toward medicating Robin (and to a possible diagnosis on the autism spectrum). Instead, Theo takes Robin to an experimental biofeedback-like program designed to help control emotions. Over the following months Robin grows emotionally and intellectually.

In broad sense, the book is a sort of homage to Flowers for Algernon, and has similar themes to that earlier book. But it is also a beautiful story about a father's relationship with his son. It is all told against the backdrop of a slightly near-future, almost-dystopian, anti-science America, a society faced with climate change, mass extinction, and environmental disaster. But don't think this is too science-fictiony for you if you are not a scifi fan: it's mostly just about the love between a father and son, although it is also heart-breaking and bleak, and offers no easy answers.

Recommended.
4 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Dec 30, 2021 |
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