The Overstory by Richard Powers



The structure of this book is inventive. The roots are the stories of characters that feed into the trunk of the narrative where their lives touch and flow or surge together towards the crown from where seed is dispersed. Characters become entwined through tree-related episodes, incidents or lives lived in the presence or under the influence of trees; lives ravel and unravel to the soughing of wind through trees and the clang of an axe, screech of a saw. Trees are not just background but fundamental in one way or the other to the human lives they sustain and the book’s characters, whether conscious or unconscious of this, become who they are, metaphorically or symbolically or actually, in part at least, thorough the power or absence, or even agency, of trees. The lives of the people depicted are overlaid by trees, both their daily and their intellectual lives; their planet’s history and science owes a debt to them, would be impossible without them. They themselves exist in dynamic conjunction with and nourished by them or crushed by their loss. A timely novel. Bravo, Richard Powers!


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