4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Too long for the brief story,
This review is from: The Echo Maker (Paperback)
If you spent a week reading "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat" while watching the Hallmark Channel, you might end up writing this novel. Mark Shluter has crashed his truck and his sister, Karin, quits her job and dumps her boyfriend to take care of him. But Mark suffered a brain injury in the accident and insists that his sister is not his sister but someone pretending to be his sister. A famous neurologist, Gerald Weber, arrives to see Mark so he can write about him in his next book. And some cranes fly through town on their way to Alaska.
The main problem with the story is that Powers does nothing with the story. His characters are uninteresting to start with and are completely unbelievable. They don't react to situations, they overreact. Everything that happens is the most important thing that has ever happened and every character reacts that way. And Powers doesn't tell a story, too often he tells us about a story. For example, when Weber goes on a television show, we only find out that he embarrasses himself during the interview but not what he said that was so terrible that it destroyed sales of his book. Weber, a crucial character in the story, is the weakest written character in the book. It is virtually impossible to justify or understand his actions. And if two people have sex in the mud, don't you think they might want to shower or at least change their clothes before going off to lunch and then on to some tourist attraction?
There are some good parts of the book. The mystery of the letter left at the hospital is interesting and is wrapped up quite nicely. In a clever and effective technique, Powers writes alternating sections from the point of view of the various characters. But the book would have been much better if Powers had reduced the length by about 200 pages. I found myself becoming bored with the characters and the story. Serious editing and the elimination of certain story threads could have kept the book short enough to make us not care that the characters are completely unlikeable and unbelievable. But at 450 pages, the holes in the characters shine through.