Saturday, April 6, 2013

Review: Generosity

Author: Richard Powers
Title: Generosity: An Enhancement
Description: An adjunct writing professor discovers a student who is happy all the time. His curiosity about how this is possible leads to the student (an Algerian immigrant) being studied for a possible “happiness gene.”
Review source: This was a book group read.
Plot: What plot there is revolves around Thassa (happy girl) as she becomes famous for her happiness. There is a subsidiary love story plot and a bunch of narrative about two other characters that do nothing.
Characters: They are all lacking. The writing teacher is (probably intended to be) boring, timid, and utterly forgettable. Thassa is always observed from the outside, so she always appears to be happy. Whether she always is happy or not is a question. The scientist and the journalist are ciphers and in my opinion the book would have been better without them.
Writing style: There’s some metafiction going on here. There’s an “I” that keeps popping up, that I can’t quite believe is the author, but isn’t the narrator either. The “I” tells us how “he” “sees” the characters. This intrusive, not especially interesting voice is one of the irritating aspects of the book.
Audience: Powers writes about science in novels. But it’s certainly not what you would call science fiction! Probably literary fiction. I imagine people who are interested in science studies/rhetoric of science might want to pick it up.
Wrap-up: This one wasn’t for me. 2/5*

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