The Overstory
May 22, 2018 9:31 AM - by Richard Powers - Subscribe

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....
posted by OHenryPacey (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I loved this book. I love learning little nuggets about interesting subjects as a story unfolds, and Powers never loses the balance between the information and the storytelling, especially in the critical first third of the novel.

The ending may not be satisfying, but I'm pretty sure that that's by design. We shouldn't be satisfied with our relationship to the natural world that sustains us, and we certainly haven't figured out yet how to make the change that's needed.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:36 AM on May 22, 2018

Sounds like a much-needed response to the fear-mongering propaganda of The Happening.
posted by Naberius at 12:00 PM on May 22, 2018

The opening chapters with all those human lives, flickering in and out of existence, somehow make these mayflies-as-protagonists seem even more significant when he eventually zooms in on their individual lifespans as their stories intertwine.
posted by whuppy at 1:51 PM on May 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

OHenryPacey: "The ending may not be satisfying"

Indeed. Not unlike a tree.
posted by chavenet at 9:02 AM on September 14, 2018

Oh man, I really did not enjoy this book, despite how many other people loved. I did really like the short stories; I thought some of them were really beautiful and very clever at incorporating trees in a meaningful way. However, once the stories started merging, I thought it was way too long and preachy in a way that really turned me off, even though I'm generally sympathetic to the book's environmentalist concerns.
posted by carolr at 11:11 AM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

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