4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Instinct for Code-Breaking,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gold Bug Variations (Paperback)Reminiscent of James Joyce's "Ulysses," The Gold Bug Variations (which has 32 chapters) loosely parallels the structure of Bach's Goldberg Variations while echoing the code-breaking imperatives which drive Poe's short story "The Gold Bug." Powers, like Joyce, uses erudite wordplay and arcane allusions not for their own sake, but to create vivid, three-dimensional characters and to explore the nature of interpretation. The Gold Bug Variations is a thoroughly engaging study of three vital and complex characters whose lives become entangled in a Gordian Knot of a narrative which challenges the reader who would solve it. A former pioneer in genetics research (Stuart Ressler -- aka "wrestler") is the book's protagonist, and his attempts to decipher the DNA code in the 1950s shape the motivations/desires of his two present-day friends, a quirky fine-arts doctoral candidate and a reclusive librarian.
The introductory chapter is a poetic microcosm (a seed-germ) of the entire book, and evokes a sense of wonder which is fully commensurate with Power's vision. If you've ever wondered how an entire encyclopedia can be contained on a CD, or how many angels can stand on the head of a pin, I believe that you will find some answers in this incredible book.