The Overstory

The Overstory

A Novel

eBook - 2018
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New York Times Bestseller A monumental novel about trees and people by one of our most "prodigiously talented" (The New York Times Book Review) novelists. An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers—each summoned in different ways by trees—are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent's few remaining acres of virgin forest. In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe. The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity's self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? "Listen. There's something you need to hear."
Publisher: 2018
ISBN: 9780393635539
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Aug 30, 2020

I loved the back stories of the soon to be interwoven characters. At first I was worried that I'd picked up a volume of short stories, but soon some met to propel the plot forward, and others provided philosophical and scientific support to the plot. All were heartfelt. All provided nuggets of wisdom and reasons why we have to value our trees in other than dollar value, in a most entertaining way.

Aug 29, 2020

Really wanted to love this book, because I have grown to appreciate every part of nature and each move mankind makes to eliminate, devour, use up our natural resources is painful. So I hoped this would help remove some sadness about deforestation. The first eight stories were terrific, but then.... couldn’t keep the characters straight and they became more and more superficial. I could no longer relate to them. I forced myself to continue, but abandoned it after 350 pages. Very disappointed.

Aug 15, 2020

I could not get into this book. I quit!

Jul 16, 2020

Too hyper, too promotional, too superior, too trite; and too long; USA-centric.

Jun 24, 2020

I am really enjoying this book. The characters are alive as well as the trees.

Reading this during Shelter-in-place and a pandemic has made me slow down and appreciate what I have. This book has allowed me to enjoy the wonders of nature, and look a little deeper.

May 20, 2020

This was my favourite book from 2019, by far. I still look at trees in a different way after reading this.

CALS_Lee Apr 29, 2020

This book got me into trees, which goes to show you the wondrous things that books can do. The Overstory seems to ask the reader to accept that trees have consciousness and can even make moral choices, and while I fully submit to the idea that life and reality are far, far more mysterious and wondrous than humans can yet understand, I have rather strong doubts about this particular claim. But still. Still. This novel shows us something big and true that most of us do not tend to see and that isn’t all that bad a description of great literature, it seems to me.

Powers starts the novel out so brilliantly with a series of character sketches linking his human creations to the natural world in ways seen and unseen, sending me off on Google searches to learn more about chestnuts and banyans and mulberries and elms, and I was fascinated.

I then feared for a stretch of the second half of this doorstop novel that he was descending into heavy handedness and mind closing didacticism. Brutal men in police uniforms operating in the service of corporations and state power may be a real life thing but it can make for an eye rolling scene in literature. And it seemed he was heading for a grand finish of nihilistic doomsday-ism. But no, he branches off away from that future, sends out a bud of new life, that left me rising out of my chair in gratitude for this mighty work.

JessicaGma Mar 25, 2020

Be forewarned - It's dense and interweaves a lot together, but it's a really interesting tale of many characters woven together much like roots in a forest. I've never read anything by Richard Powers and found this book via a BookRiot article talking about Keanu Reeves who's apparently a huge reader - anyway, this was his most recent read, and it was well worth it - you learn the ugly sides of the pulp and paper industry, but also so much about the innate elegance of trees and forests. Nature is indeed a marvel

Feb 26, 2020

I enjoyed the first eight stories and was thrilled to discover an innovative style .
However, when I was half way up the trunk, the book “dropped me “ and I could not finish it.

Feb 23, 2020

This is a really beautifully written book. Powers weaves together multiple stories into one larger piece that takes shape slowly over the 500 pages, a lot like the trees that are at the center of what he writes.

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Aug 09, 2019

Page 84 of the hardback: “...the greatest flaw of the species is its overwhelming tendency to mistake agreement for truth.”

Aug 09, 2019

Page 7 of the hardback: “Life is a battle between the Maker and His creation.”

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