Excellent article about Powers in the University of Illinois' Alumni Magazine, available online via the title link above. Can't find a date on the online article (Illinois folks--help! I need the exact citation for the bibliography!), but it seems to have come out last year, sometime before the appearance of Generosity.
Update: received email today from the article's author, Mary Timmins, who informs me that the piece was published in the November / December 2007 issue of the magazine. She will be sending me the magazine, and then I'll duly add it to the bibliography. The piece won a won a gold medal in the annual competition sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Thanks, Mary!
“I did live in relative isolation for the better part of 10 months,” Powers said. “Basically, my days, the ordinary days, would consist of waking up, taking a walk in the woods, writing … reading for six hours and then falling asleep and waking up and doing it all again.” Inhabiting a remote house on Long Island, the novelist went for weeks without human contact, the better to write “Plowing the Dark,” in which a character is held in solitary confinement as a hostage in Beirut. When his captors finally give him a book, Powers said, the character is filled with “this emotionally devastating sense of how lucky we are to see the workings of anybody else’s mind.”
For those who have seen the workings of his mind, Powers is a writer like no other. Over the past 22 years he has produced nine novels that enthrall and educate, underpinning powerful tales of brave, flawed people with intense passages, improbably lyrical, devoted to understanding the world from a scientific standpoint.
“We think we’re a solid thing, we think we’re continuous, we think memory is reliable,” he said, speaking in the resonant, measured tones that evince his lifelong love of music, “when in fact it’s all stories.”