Review of Powers’ Bewilderment


I finished reading Richard Powers’ novel Bewilderment. It was, I think, the first fiction book I’ve read in years. I read it on the targeted, spot-on recommendation of Katie (my wife!). Reading it, I found myself saying noticing that I was experiencing some things that I almost never experienced reading non-fiction—what I typically read. There were several points at which I think I literally said WOW out loud (something I definitely have done not when reading non-fiction). The book starts and ends in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I feel like Powers, as an author, understands them (the Smokies), and that thrilled me. I couldn’t believe the ending; at a certain point, it became clear how the book would end in a way that doesn’t quite resolve all of the tensions introduced earlier, and that gave the book a sticking power—to me—that I didn’t expect.

The book, I think, is too contemporary; its references to a Trump-like president make the book less timeless, I think, though that may have to depend on how we as a nation move from a period of time in which Trump made such an impression on the country. Recommended! Also, I have to recommend that other readers (like me) who do not read fiction consider finding one’s way into the genre!