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Generosity: An Enhancement

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Generosity: An Enhancement Cover

ISBN13: 9780312429751
ISBN10: 0312429754
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

The National Book Award-winning author of The Echo Maker proves yet again that no writer of our time dreams on a grander scale or more knowingly captures the zeitgeist. (The Dallas Morning News).

What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness? Who will own the patent? Do we dare revise our own temperaments? Funny, fast, and magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence.

Richard Powers is the author of ten novels, including Generosity, Gain, The Time of Our Singing, Galatea 2.2, and Plowing the Dark. The Echo Maker won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Powers has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Lannan Literary Award. He lives in Illinois.

Winner of the National Book AwardA New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year in 2009A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year in 2009

A Society for Midland Authors Fiction Award Finalist

What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness? Who will own the patent? Do we dare revise our own temperaments? Funny, fast, and magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence. Powers'] cerebral new novel offers a chilling examination of the life we're reengineering with our chromosomes and brain chemistry . . . Powers sticks so closely to the state of current medical science and popular culture that this isn't so much a warning as a diagnosis. And as with any frightening diagnosis, you'll be torn between denial and a desperate urge to talk about it . . . With Generosity, Powers has performed a dazzling cross-disciplinary feat, linking the slippery nature of 'creative nonfiction' to the moral conundrums of genetic engineering. Although you might expect a novel so weighted with medical and philosophical arguments to flatten its characters into brittle stereotypes, ultimately that's the most impressive aspect of this meditation on happiness and humanness. As Generosity drives toward its surprising conclusion, these characters grow more complex and poignant, increasingly baffled by the challenge and the opportunity of remaking ourselves to our heart's content.--Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

For the past 20 years or so, Richard Powers seems to have been engaged in a prodigious attempt to redress the imbalance of knowledge that was the subject of C. P. Snow's famous 'Two Cultures' lecture. That, you will recall, was the one in which Snow, a British scientist and novelist, bemoaned the breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities. Unlike most of his novelistic peers, Powers speaks fluent science and technology. As a longtime reader of the mostly rapturous reviews of his novels, written by humanists who seemed deeply intimidated by his mastery of arcane branches of scientific knowledge, I managed--until recently--to avoid cracking any of them. As it turns out, his new novel, Generosity, is an excellent introduction to Powers's work, a lighter, leaner treatment of his favorite themes and techniques. The new novel is certainly more buoyant than Powers's last, the National Book Award-winning Echo Maker . . . While that book revolved around a young man who suffers serious brain damage, the central figure of Generosity is a woman ostensibly afflicted with hyperthymia--an excess of happiness. The new book poses the question, What if there were a happiness gene? Curiously enough it features a public debate between the two cultures, in which a tortured, charisma-challenged Nobel- winning novelist fares badly against a glibly articulate scientist arguing the case for genetic engineering . . . A third narrative, actually a meta-narrative, is woven through these pages, and is basically the story of the telling of the story. 'Over date pudding, she tells him about negativity bias. I'm not really sure if she tells him this over date pudding, of course, or even if she tells him at this lunch at all. But she tells him, at some point, early on. That much is nonfiction: no creation necessary.' Actually, of course, the whole passage is fiction, written by Richard Powers--who surely knows that a narrator professing incomplete knowledge of his own creations, or drawing arbitrary lines between fiction and nonfiction, risks violating his contract with his readers . . . The novel really kicks into gear when one of Thassa's fellow students, temporarily unhinged by her goodness, attempts to rape her, then turns himself in. The story might have died after 60 seconds on the local news if not for the fact that Russell Stone uses the word 'hyper-thymia' in trying to explain his exotic student to the police. Powers is especially effective at illustrating the way the story of the girl with the happiness gene spreads across the Internet and, only slightly less rapidly, the traditional media . . . But Powers is, when he chooses to be, an engaging storyteller (though he would probably wince at the word), and even as he questions the conventions of narrative and character, Generosity gains in momentum and suspense. In the end, he wants to have it both ways, and he comes very close to succeeding.--Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review

When written by Dostoevsky, Dickens, or Richard Powers at his best, one may feel that the novel] can contain every facet of teh world.--Michael Dirda, The New York Review of Books

Powers'] cerebral new novel offers a chilling examination of the life we're reengineering with our chromosomes and brain chemistry. Although it's tempting to call Generosity a dystopia about the pharmaceutical future in the tradition of Huxley's Brave New World, Powers sticks so closely to the state of current medical science and popular culture that this isn't so much a warning as a diagnosis. And as with any frightening diagnosis, you'll be torn between denial and a desperate urge to talk about it . . . Powers] has a well-deserved reputation for brainy fiction (he won a MacArthur 'genius' grant in 1989), and Generosity may be his most demanding novel yet. It's told in a series of moments that run from just a paragraph to a few pages long, involving a triple-helix plot . . . What Powers makes so bracingly clear . . . is that the scientific breakthroughs that alter the nature of humanity don't take place in the laboratory. These drugs and genetic techniques aren't fully born until they're packaged by the media and consumed by a distracted but passionate public. In a culture in which entertainment value is the highest value, all things--including scientific truth--must be hyped for mass consumption . . . There is] a spot-on depiction of an episode of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' about the latest psychological discoveries. A graphic reminder of the nuance-free way millions of people learn about complicated medical science, it's as funny as it is sobering. And to this fascinating mix, Powers dares to add a postmodern narrator who periodically breaks into the story to deconstruct readers' assumptions about characters and plot . . . In the context of Generosity, Powers's self-conscious narrator is brilliantly relevant. This is, after all, a novel about human beings attempting to design their own characters and, in a sense, narrate their own biological stories. With Generosity, Powers has performed a dazzling cross-disciplinary feat, linking the slippery nature of 'creative nonfiction' to the moral conundrums of genetic engineering. Although you might expect a novel so weighted with medical and philosophical arguments to flatten its characters into brittle stereotypes, ultimately that's the most impressive aspect of this meditation on happiness and humanness. As Generosity drives toward its surprising conclusion, these characters grow more complex and poignant, increasingly baffled by the challenge and the opportunity of remaking ourselves to our heart's content.--Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

Electric . . . A flashy novel of ideas that share qualities with others Powers novels related to consciousness, Galatea 2.2 and, most recently, The Echo Maker . . . The narrator yearns for a novel that could 'break free' from the story . . . In Generosity it may be here.--Art Winslow, Chicago Tribune

Powers fuses riveting narrative and spot-on dialogue with thought-provoking social analysis.--Dan Cryer, Newsday

Generosity is Power's most whimsical, pleasurable novel to date.--Jane Ciabattari, NPR

You can't corner Powers. Early on in his follow-up to the National Book Award-winning The Echo Maker, Powers puts one of his protagonists, hapless and hopeless adjunct writing professor Russell Stone, on the path to his classroom . . . Powers is such a gifted novelist that even when he's tackling issues most often consigned to The New York Times or Scientific American--here, it's genetics--we're happy to be on his kind of journey . . . Powers has made a career of examining the ramifications--and most important, potentialities--of persistent technological advances. In that sense, Generosity fits right in with the rest of his work: Constant is the question of whether happiness is chemical, and if it is, if anything is lost in its commodification. But while we love the science-fiction and science-nonfiction moments in Generosity, it's Powers's more subtle, humanities-based exploration of emotions that makes the book so fascinating. While working out the big questions, Powers addresses more intimate quandaries. When assessing Russell's failure to even recogniz

Synopsis:

From the National Book Award-winning author of "The Echo Maker" comes a playful and provocative novel about the discovery of the happiness gene. Funny, fast, and finally magical, "Generosity" celebrates both science and the freed imagination.

Synopsis:

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

The National Book Award-winning author of The Echo Maker proves yet again that no writer of our time dreams on a grander scale or more knowingly captures the zeitgeist. (The Dallas Morning News).

What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness? Who will own the patent? Do we dare revise our own temperaments? Funny, fast, and magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence.

Richard Powers is the author of ten novels, including Generosity, Gain, The Time of Our Singing, Galatea 2.2, and Plowing the Dark. The Echo Maker won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Powers has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Lannan Literary Award. He lives in Illinois.

Winner of the National Book AwardA New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year in 2009A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year in 2009

A Society for Midland Authors Fiction Award Finalist

What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness? Who will own the patent? Do we dare revise our own temperaments? Funny, fast, and magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence. Powers'] cerebral new novel offers a chilling examination of the life we're reengineering with our chromosomes and brain chemistry . . . Powers sticks so closely to the state of current medical science and popular culture that this isn't so much a warning as a diagnosis. And as with any frightening diagnosis, you'll be torn between denial and a desperate urge to talk about it . . . With Generosity, Powers has performed a dazzling cross-disciplinary feat, linking the slippery nature of 'creative nonfiction' to the moral conundrums of genetic engineering. Although you might expect a novel so weighted with medical and philosophical arguments to flatten its characters into brittle stereotypes, ultimately that's the most impressive aspect of this meditation on happiness and humanness. As Generosity drives toward its surprising conclusion, these characters grow more complex and poignant, increasingly baffled by the challenge and the opportunity of remaking ourselves to our heart's content.--Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

For the past 20 years or so, Richard Powers seems to have been engaged in a prodigious attempt to redress the imbalance of knowledge that was the subject of C. P. Snow's famous 'Two Cultures' lecture. That, you will recall, was the one in which Snow, a British scientist and novelist, bemoaned the breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities. Unlike most of his novelistic peers, Powers speaks fluent science and technology. As a longtime reader of the mostly rapturous reviews of his novels, written by humanists who seemed deeply intimidated by his mastery of arcane branches of scientific knowledge, I managed--until recently--to avoid cracking any of them. As it turns out, his new novel, Generosity, is an excellent introduction to Powers's work, a lighter, leaner treatment of his favorite themes and techniques. The new novel is certainly more buoyant than Powers's last, the National Book Award-winning Echo Maker . . . While that book revolved around a young man who suffers serious brain damage, the central figure of Generosity is a woman ostensibly afflicted with hyperthymia--an excess of happiness. The new book poses the question, What if there were a happiness gene? Curiously enough it features a public debate between the two cultures, in which a tortured, charisma-challenged Nobel- winning novelist fares badly against a glibly articulate scientist arguing the case for genetic engineering . . . A third narrative, actually a meta-narrative, is woven through these pages, and is basically the story of the telling of the story. 'Over date pudding, she tells him about negativity bias. I'm not really sure if she tells him this over date pudding, of course, or even if she tells him at this lunch at all. But she tells him, at some point, early on. That much is nonfiction: no creation necessary.' Actually, of course, the whole passage is fiction, written by Richard Powers--who surely knows that a narrator professing incomplete knowledge of his own creations, or drawing arbitrary lines between fiction and nonfiction, risks violating his contract with his readers . . . The novel really kicks into gear when one of Thassa's fellow students, temporarily unhinged by her goodness, attempts to rape her, then turns himself in. The story might have died after 60 seconds on the local news if not for the fact that Russell Stone uses the word 'hyper-thymia' in trying to explain his exotic student to the police. Powers is especially effective at illustrating the way the story of the girl with the happiness gene spreads across the Internet and, only slightly less rapidly, the traditional media . . . But Powers is, when he chooses to be, an engaging storyteller (though he would probably wince at the word), and even as he questions the conventions of narrative and character, Generosity gains in momentum and suspense. In the end, he wants to have it both ways, and he comes very close to succeeding.--Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review

When written by Dostoevsky, Dickens, or Richard Powers at his best, one may feel that the novel] can contain every facet of teh world.--Michael Dirda, The New York Review of Books

Powers'] cerebral new novel offers a chilling examination of the life we're reengineering with our chromosomes and brain chemistry. Although it's tempting to call Generosity a d

Synopsis:

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

The National Book Award-winning author of The Echo Maker proves yet again that "no writer of our time dreams on a grander scale or more knowingly captures the zeitgeist." (The Dallas Morning News).

What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness?  Who will own the patent?  Do we dare revise our own temperaments?  Funny, fast, and magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence.

 

About the Author

Richard Powers is the author of nine novels. The Echo Maker (FSG, 2006) won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Powers has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Historical Fiction. He lives in Illinois.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Daphna, January 7, 2011 (view all comments by Daphna)
This book is a beautiful mind-blower, challenging and adventurous, attempting the impossible task of reconciling scientific understanding with feeling, sensitivity, and human connection. It changed the way I think about modern medicine, personality, art, identity, and happiness. I feel its characters in my life now. I tore through it and then started all over again; it's built like a circle, a human-scale, time-traveling mystery thriller, with lots of self-reference about the writing process itself. Pure wonder and delight, sophisticated and fundamental. Thanks.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
omichael, December 11, 2010 (view all comments by omichael)
With The Echo Maker and now Generosity: An Enhancement, Powers has moved from being an intriguing formulaic-author to perhaps my favorite American author.
For some reason I expected Generosity to be a minor effort, but really it is amazingly multifaceted and extremely well written. It is the writing and overall structure, and what seems to be a greater emotional connection to his characters and storyline that makes these two most recent books stand out. I was mightily impressed by The Echo Maker, but I was really blown away by Generosity. This is a meditation on American culture, genetic research, science and art, truth and fiction, identity, and America's insulation from the world at large. Thought-provoking and very nearly pitch-perfect, this is world class literature.
I do have my own peculiar tastes in fiction, and I'm certainly not rushing to read Franzen's new offering so you can write me off on that score if you will, but you really should be reading Powers.

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Product Details

ISBN:
9780312429751
Author:
Powers, Richard
Publisher:
Picador USA
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Medical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20100831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.3 x 5.44 x 0.92 in

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Generosity: An Enhancement Used Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages Picador USA - English 9780312429751 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , From the National Book Award-winning author of "The Echo Maker" comes a playful and provocative novel about the discovery of the happiness gene. Funny, fast, and finally magical, "Generosity" celebrates both science and the freed imagination.
"Synopsis" by , A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

The National Book Award-winning author of The Echo Maker proves yet again that no writer of our time dreams on a grander scale or more knowingly captures the zeitgeist. (The Dallas Morning News).

What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness? Who will own the patent? Do we dare revise our own temperaments? Funny, fast, and magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence.

Richard Powers is the author of ten novels, including Generosity, Gain, The Time of Our Singing, Galatea 2.2, and Plowing the Dark. The Echo Maker won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Powers has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Lannan Literary Award. He lives in Illinois.

Winner of the National Book AwardA New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year in 2009A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year in 2009

A Society for Midland Authors Fiction Award Finalist

What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness? Who will own the patent? Do we dare revise our own temperaments? Funny, fast, and magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence. Powers'] cerebral new novel offers a chilling examination of the life we're reengineering with our chromosomes and brain chemistry . . . Powers sticks so closely to the state of current medical science and popular culture that this isn't so much a warning as a diagnosis. And as with any frightening diagnosis, you'll be torn between denial and a desperate urge to talk about it . . . With Generosity, Powers has performed a dazzling cross-disciplinary feat, linking the slippery nature of 'creative nonfiction' to the moral conundrums of genetic engineering. Although you might expect a novel so weighted with medical and philosophical arguments to flatten its characters into brittle stereotypes, ultimately that's the most impressive aspect of this meditation on happiness and humanness. As Generosity drives toward its surprising conclusion, these characters grow more complex and poignant, increasingly baffled by the challenge and the opportunity of remaking ourselves to our heart's content.--Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

For the past 20 years or so, Richard Powers seems to have been engaged in a prodigious attempt to redress the imbalance of knowledge that was the subject of C. P. Snow's famous 'Two Cultures' lecture. That, you will recall, was the one in which Snow, a British scientist and novelist, bemoaned the breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities. Unlike most of his novelistic peers, Powers speaks fluent science and technology. As a longtime reader of the mostly rapturous reviews of his novels, written by humanists who seemed deeply intimidated by his mastery of arcane branches of scientific knowledge, I managed--until recently--to avoid cracking any of them. As it turns out, his new novel, Generosity, is an excellent introduction to Powers's work, a lighter, leaner treatment of his favorite themes and techniques. The new novel is certainly more buoyant than Powers's last, the National Book Award-winning Echo Maker . . . While that book revolved around a young man who suffers serious brain damage, the central figure of Generosity is a woman ostensibly afflicted with hyperthymia--an excess of happiness. The new book poses the question, What if there were a happiness gene? Curiously enough it features a public debate between the two cultures, in which a tortured, charisma-challenged Nobel- winning novelist fares badly against a glibly articulate scientist arguing the case for genetic engineering . . . A third narrative, actually a meta-narrative, is woven through these pages, and is basically the story of the telling of the story. 'Over date pudding, she tells him about negativity bias. I'm not really sure if she tells him this over date pudding, of course, or even if she tells him at this lunch at all. But she tells him, at some point, early on. That much is nonfiction: no creation necessary.' Actually, of course, the whole passage is fiction, written by Richard Powers--who surely knows that a narrator professing incomplete knowledge of his own creations, or drawing arbitrary lines between fiction and nonfiction, risks violating his contract with his readers . . . The novel really kicks into gear when one of Thassa's fellow students, temporarily unhinged by her goodness, attempts to rape her, then turns himself in. The story might have died after 60 seconds on the local news if not for the fact that Russell Stone uses the word 'hyper-thymia' in trying to explain his exotic student to the police. Powers is especially effective at illustrating the way the story of the girl with the happiness gene spreads across the Internet and, only slightly less rapidly, the traditional media . . . But Powers is, when he chooses to be, an engaging storyteller (though he would probably wince at the word), and even as he questions the conventions of narrative and character, Generosity gains in momentum and suspense. In the end, he wants to have it both ways, and he comes very close to succeeding.--Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review

When written by Dostoevsky, Dickens, or Richard Powers at his best, one may feel that the novel] can contain every facet of teh world.--Michael Dirda, The New York Review of Books

Powers'] cerebral new novel offers a chilling examination of the life we're reengineering with our chromosomes and brain chemistry. Although it's tempting to call Generosity a d

"Synopsis" by ,

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

The National Book Award-winning author of The Echo Maker proves yet again that "no writer of our time dreams on a grander scale or more knowingly captures the zeitgeist." (The Dallas Morning News).

What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness?  Who will own the patent?  Do we dare revise our own temperaments?  Funny, fast, and magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence.

 

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