Richard Powers 2014. Orfeo.. New York: W.W.Norton. 384 pp.

A kind of Bonfire of the Vanities tale of self-inflicted descent into chaos of a little-known composer who is also an amateur molecular biologist. The reason for this improbable element only becomes evident at the very end. Starts out feeling a bit of a febrile autobiography but somehow becomes more compelling as the story becomes more improbable. If for no other reason, worth it for a plausible glimpse into the life of a composer, and for the musical accounts of the most famous works of Schostakovich and, especially, Olivier Messiaen, and their historical context, which I thought I knew but not well enough.

Richard Powers must be a bit of an interesting dude.