A Book Review : : THE OVERSTORY, (trees as a metaphor for life itself)

Photo, PBS.org (fair use)

For those who haven’t read this novel, The Overstory, (about trees as metaphor and reality) you are missing a new classic. (The chapter titled Patricia Westerford, a forest research botanist who discovers that trees communicate with each other, alone is worth the price of the entire volume.)  NYTimes author interview.  (Winner, Pulitzer Prize.)

The theme of the novel is a grand tapestry, perhaps detectable in this short excerpt:  

No one sees trees.  We see fruit, we see nuts, we see shade.  We see ornaments or pretty fall foliage.  Obstacles blocking the road or wrecking the ski slope.  Dark, threatening places that must be cleared.  We see branches about to crush our roof.  We see a cash crop.  But tress—trees are invisible.  

The book is long and the prose is vibrant.  The story is told thru its characters, and the early chapters are named after them.  Pay attention.  Make a crib sheet, even — a cast of characters with a thumbnail of their backstories.  These characters will reappear further into the account. Their accounts are gripping and the lessons instructive.  If you care about your home you will be glad you encountered this masterwork.

NASA photo by Reid Wiseman

 

 

Dust jacket quote from Margaret Atwood:

“If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century, which writer would he be?  He’d  probably be Herman Melville of Moby Dick.  His picture is that big.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *