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The Resource The time of our singing, Richard Powers

The time of our singing, Richard Powers

Label
The time of our singing
Title
The time of our singing
Statement of responsibility
Richard Powers
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"On Easter Day, 1939, at Marian Anderson's epochal concert on the Washington Mall, David Strom, a German Jewish emigre scientist, meets Delia Daley, a young Philadelphia Negro studying to be a concert singer. Their mutual love of music draws them together, and - against all odds, advice, and better judgment - they marry. They vow to raise their offspring beyond time, beyond race, beyond belonging, steeped in song. But their three children, the unwitting subjects of this experiment, must survive America's brutal here and now."
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • Booklist Editors' Choice, 2003.
  • New York Times Notable Book, 2003
Review
  • /*Starred Review*/ When Jewish physicist David Strom meets African American Delia Daley at Marian Anderson's historic Washington Mall performance in 1939, they fall in the most unlikely love. Together, they embark on a grand experiment, raising three children to love music and transcend race. The children all sing beautifully, but the oldest boy, Jonah, is a genuine prodigy (his brother, Joseph, who narrates the novel, becomes Jonah's accompanist in life and music). When their mother dies in a mysterious fire, the three children must navigate a racist world with only their white father to guide them, a man obsessed with trying to decode the secret shape of time. While Ruth, the youngest Strom, becomes a militant black activist, the two boys try to resurrect the music of dead white men with the history of the civil rights movement playing out in their background--always present, and yet never nearby. Powers' (Ploughing the Dark, Galatea 2.2) celebrated intellect is fully evident in this sweeping story as he forges unlikely connections between race and physics, and music and time. But behind Powers' intimidating brain is a heart too often overlooked, and even as the narrative artfully switches tenses and folds back upon itself (reflecting the knotted shape of time), this remarkable novel sings from its tortured soul as much as from its polyphonic mind. (Reviewed October 15, 2002) -- John Green
  • Powers (Plowing the Dark , etc.) has generated considerable excitement as a novelist of ideas, but as a creator of characters, he is on shakier ground. Here he confronts his weaknesses head-on, crafting a hefty family saga that attempts to probe generational conflicts, sibling rivalries and racial identity. The book follows the mixed-race Strom family through much of the 20th century, from 1939—when German-Jewish physicist David Strom meets Delia Daley, a black, classically trained singer from Philadelphia—through the 1990s. The couple marries and has three children: eldest son Jonah, a charismatic, egotistical singing prodigy; Joseph, his self-sacrificing accompanist; and Ruth, the rebel of the family, who becomes a militant black activist. There are two separate strands to the story: one is a third-person chronicle of David and Delia's relationship through the 1940s; the other, narrated by Joseph, is about the brothers' education in the nearly all-white world of classical music and their experience of the civil rights movement as the rest of the country grudgingly catches up to the Stroms' radical experiment. Powers's premise is intriguing, and the plot's architecture is impressive, informed by the notion, from physics, of space-time wrinkles and time curves. Missing, however, are the pulse-quickening vintage-Powers moments in which his discussions of technology and science open up profound existential quandaries. Most of the book is taken up with a prolonged, overdetermined and off-key examination of family relationships and identity struggles. Narrator Joseph is supposed to be eclipsed by his brother, but Powers overshoots the mark: for half the book, Joseph is little more than a pair of eyes and ears. Powers's depiction of how public events filter into individual consciousness can also be surprisingly unimaginative; Joseph periodically runs down a list of current events, using stale, iconic imagery ("our hatless boy president plays touch football on the White House lawn"). Powers deserves credit for taking a risk, but his own experiment reveals his startling tone deafness to the subtle inflections of human experience. (Jan. 22, 2003) --Staff (Reviewed October 7, 2002) (Publishers Weekly, vol 249, issue 40, p50)
  • /* Starred Review */ Delia Daley met David Strom on Easter Sunday in Washington, DC, in 1939 at a concert by Marion Anderson held outside the Lincoln Memorial after the DAR refused to let her perform indoors. And so the talented black woman from Philadelphia and the German Jewish refugee physicist and teacher from Columbia University fall in love and create a universe that parallels the history of time, music, and civil rights. Powers (Plowing the Dark ) moves between present and past, with sections of the novel, not really chapters, alternating between the third person and a first-person account narrated by the Stroms' middle child and younger son, Joseph. While Delia is refused a prestigious musical education because of her race, Einstein himself suggests that the couple's elder son, Jonah, take singing lessons to further his obvious talent. Meanwhile, daughter Ruth questions her mixed heritage, and her actions mirror the growth of black militancy throughout the country as civil rights takes hold. The title of this book pervades each page, with the structure of time and the discipline of singing woven throughout. The language is dense, often difficult; this reviewer, who takes singing lessons, found the descriptions of technique mesmerizing but elusive. Did I mention physics? Powers's work is undoubtedly complex, but his stories are compelling, lyrical, and timeless. Readers who invest the time in this lengthy novel will be rewarded. Recommended for all literary fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ /15/02.]—Bette-Lee Fox, "Library Journal" --Bette-Lee Fox (Reviewed November 1, 2002) (Library Journal, vol 127, issue 18, p130)
  • /* Starred Review */ The power of music in its relation to a racially divided family and culture is dramatized with unprecedented brilliance in this panoramic novel: the eighth from the protean author of, most recently, Plowing the Dark (2000).The major characters are the New York City Strom family: father David, a German Jewish refugee and professor of physics at Columbia University; his black wife Delia, a gifted singer denied opportunities to develop her talent; and their three "mixed" children: Jonah (who inherits his mother's glorious voice), his brother and partner Joseph, and their younger sister Ruth. Powers's thickly detailed narrative ranges back and forth in time—to 1939, when Delia and David first meet, and the succeeding years; then throughout the Strom children's lives as Joseph, remembering it all long afterward, recounts for us Jonah's triumphant singing career, his own journeyman's life in music, and Ruth's angry absorption into black militancy. The Stroms' experiences are counterpointed—rather too pointedly—against such watershed events as a famous Marian Anderson concert performed in 1939 at the Lincoln Memorial, the Emmett Till murder case, the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, and the Rodney King beating and subsequent Los Angeles riots. Powers's impassioned criticisms of racism are often jarringly strident (white musicians' liberalism, for example, is labeled "that plea bargain that high culture employs to get all charges against it dropped"). But such awkwardness is subsumed in this rich novel's verbal agility, depth of characterization, historical and social range, and propulsive readability. And, as a grace note of sorts, Powers demonstrates that he knows as much about musical technique, theory, and history as he seems to know about almost everything else.The most accessible, and powerful fiction yet from a major American writer who, against all odds, just keeps getting better. (Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2002)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
070874
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1957-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Powers, Richard
Dewey number
813/.54
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • African American women singers
  • Parent and adult child
  • Racially mixed people
  • Interracial marriage
  • Interfaith marriage
  • Immigrants
  • Jewish men
  • Scientists
  • Singers
  • African American women singers
  • Immigrants
  • Interfaith marriage
  • Interracial marriage
  • Jewish men
  • Parent and adult child
  • Racially mixed people
  • Scientists
  • Singers
Label
The time of our singing, Richard Powers
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
438934
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
631 pages
Isbn
9780374277826
Lccn
2002022397
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780374277826
  • (OCoLC)49225765
Label
The time of our singing, Richard Powers
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
438934
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
631 pages
Isbn
9780374277826
Lccn
2002022397
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780374277826
  • (OCoLC)49225765

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
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