News and Observations from Wapella, Illinois: Home of the Wildcats.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Wapella Native Wins National Book Award

In a belated notice, Wapella native Richard Powers (WHS 1986) has won the National Book Award for his novel, The Echo Maker, an engrossing tale of Sandhill Cranes and human memory.

Certainly, leaving Chicago at 11 to live in Bangkok had an enormous impact on me. [His family lived abroad for five years when his father, a high school principal, took a job at the International School of Bangkok.] Being dropped in an extremely different culture on the other side of the globe turned me into an observer. As I grew up, my love of music intersected with my love of science to become an interest in form—pattern making and pattern finding

Powers' story of his youth (he lived across the road from me) does not match my own memory, but writers are known for their creativity, so putting a bit of ginger in the sauce certainly doesn't ruin the gravy. Who knows, maybe a healthy interest in Sandhill Cranes would push into the big leagues as well?

Congrat RA Powers.


North Of Wapella said...

Are you sure that's the same Richard Powers? The author of that name was born in Evanston in '57, and graduated from DeKalb High School in '75, so he would have been a "Barb" rather than a Wildcat. (Check his Wikipedia entry.)

Anonymous said...

Well, it sort of looks like Richard. He wore that haircut in the mid 1970's, and perhaps he went back to it.

EEP said...

When Shah came back from Bangkok at age 11, he was a changed man. Fella by the name of Murray Head even wrote a song about it.

Anonymous said...

Hard to say - there's been a lot of fiction/non-fiction issues going on lately with writers so who knows if it has spread to mixing up author's backgrounds. RP had a vivid imagination and believed himself to be a member of the middle eastern royal family at a young age. If I recall correctly, his family bounced back and forth between Evanston, DeKalb, and Wapella for years. Pretty sure that he had the WHS record for the discus throw too. bbd

Stillman said...

Once the smoke has cleared from The Irish Circle, you'll see that it's a different guy.

Anonymous said...

He left Chicago at 11. Then he wasn't in Wapella. Me thinks its not the right guy.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anon, RA Powers, a fine fellow, has been besmirched by your comments. Where is your good cheer and community spirit?


Anonymous said...

I'm with hoosier gato on this one...RAP was a fine student and one of the all time gutsiest wildcats. I occassionally tell my kids about how tough he was at track meets. annon - post your name if you are going to insult a wildcat. bbd

Anonymous said...

RP is working on a restoration movement sure to return him to the throne of a certain Middle Eastern nation. Will it be called the Sandhill crane throne? No more peacocks.

Agree with HG and BBD, keep it positive.


Directional Man said...

He must have written the Prisoner's Dilemma while in Carbondale.
That is a good book, it even refers to SIU in it.
Directional School that it is.

Thanks RTR for recommending that book to me.

Richard was plenty smart, and I suspect he wrote the disparaging words about himself because I don't know why anybody else would. If somebody else did, they should know better than to mess with a Saluki. Especially one who could climb so well under pressure.

Anonymous said...

Richard's choice of wardrobe is a tipoff. WHS Richard most always wears logowear, and is not prone to long, unpaid walks near cornfields.

I think this is in error.

Anonymous said...

I'm also with directional man. Richard Powers is one good author. I liked especially "Three Farmers on a Way to a Dance" and "Goldbug Variations," which features UIUC. "Gain" is pretty good too and focuses on a town a lot like Tuscola. Congrats Richard!


Anonymous said...

Richard Powers, as in Margaret's brother? Can't someone confirm/deny this?

north of wapella said...

Legs are being pulled.

Anonymous said...


Any references to a guy a lot like Turbo in that town a lot like Tuscola?


Anonymous said...


Not that I could detect, but it's been some time since I read it.


JB Powers said...

Was there a character that had a rocky relationship with the Amish in Arcola? Moved to Denver with his long term companion from high school, only to give up confirmed bachelorhood to wed a clothing- obsessed '81 Wildcat?

After 15 years of bethroing, he grows a beard, joins a band, and begins chewing tobacco to return to his Tuscola roots?

Nah, that wasn't it.


Anonymous said...

Add Scott Spiezio to the band for a little spice. That an some elevator hijinks.


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