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How We Assembled Indiespensable #45

When one of young Richard Powers's college professors told him that literature was the "perfect place for someone who wanted the aerial view," he abandoned his plan to become a scientist and switched his major to English. As Margaret Atwood would one day quip, "Powers is not a painter of miniatures." The aerial view is where he lives. Powers has a deep knowledge of a remarkable array of subjects and at times seems to be incorporating them into one overarching view. He's written about physics, history, photography, computer science, genetics, economics, and many other topics. But the motif Powers has returned to most often throughout his career is music, which takes center stage again in his brilliant new novel based loosely on the myth of Orpheus.

Peter Els, a classical composer who dabbles in microbiology, gets fingered as a bioterrorist and, after a national manhunt is launched, spends the rest of the novel on the lam. He revisits the seminal people and music from his past and contemplates the decisions that shaped his life's work. A gorgeously written, masterfully plotted, deeply moving story of one man's quest to create something genuinely new, Orfeo is both a thrilling read and a deeply satisfying novel of ideas. We are thrilled to be able to feature it in Indiespensable Volume 45.

Each package also includes a bag of raspberry truffle popcorn from Portland's celebrated artisanal popcorn company, Poplandia, and a Hot Chocolate on a Stick variety bag from Popbar, a dessert shop based in New York's West Village known for their handcrafted treats-on-a-stick. Just stir one of the three flavors in a cup of steamed milk for an instant cup of hot milk chocolate, hot dark chocolate, or hot vanilla. Thrilling and deeply satisfying indeed.



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A collective of high muckamucks, the Panjandrums largely spend their time in competitive Bananagram duels and negotiations regarding Pie Friday — not to mention painstakingly designing each installment of Powell's subscription club, Indiespensable, with the help of independent publishers and local merchants. From time to time, they find it entertaining to give you a look at the hows and whys behind the what. But, if you're yearning for more, send questions, suggestions, and random anecdotes to indiespensable@powells.com. (They especially like stories about pets, babies, and pie fillings.)

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Orfeo
    Used Hardcover $10.95

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