49 pages 1 hour read

Richard Powers

The Echo Maker

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2006

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Part 1Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “I Am No One”

Part 1, Pages 1-23 Summary

Content Warning: This novel deals with issues related to addiction, mental health conditions, and brain injury.

The story opens with a description of the sandhill cranes gathering on the flats around Nebraska’s Platte River. They look prehistoric, like pterodactyls, each with a bald red spot on its head.

Karen received word that her younger brother, Mark, who is in his late twenties, was in a car accident. She is driving to Kearney, the town where she and Mark grew up. At the hospital, Karin learns that Mark has a moderately severe head injury. A bare patch has been shaved on his head and wires attached. Hours later, Mark develops a cerebral edema. After a drain is installed to relieve the pressure in his skull, Karin is allowed again to enter Mark’s room. On the bed stand, she finds a note with puzzling message: “I am No One/But Tonight on North Line Road/GOD led me to you/So You could Live/And bring back someone else” (19). No one outside the hospital staff has been allowed to visit Mark, and no one there admits any knowledge of the note.

Karin takes care of Mark in the hospital as if he were a small child, much as she did when they were both children.