The Overstory

The Overstory

A Novel

Book - 2018
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The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 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 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. 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.
Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton & Company, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393635522
039363552X
Branch Call Number: F Pow

Opinion

From Library Staff

List - Forest therapy
jpainter Aug 29, 2018

An epic read. Told in overlapping stories that ring and circle like a tree's trunk, from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, each character is called by trees to save the remaining forest. Seeing the vast connected natural world para... Read More »

List - Princeton's Picks
PrincetonPL Sep 05, 2018

This book tells the stories of nine individuals whose actions serve to help save trees from extinction, with the trees and their plight paralleling family and individual as well as societal struggles. Climate issues, immigration, war, geography, community, pride, consumption, wealth, prosperity, ... Read More »


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Spokoj
Jun 06, 2019

Disappointing read. First 153 pages held my interest, but then it became tedious. The Ents in the Lord of the Rings trilogy were more interesting than most of the characters in this book.

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BarneyJr
May 17, 2019

Keanu brought me here.

n
nalahblueberry5
Apr 24, 2019

This book won the Pulitzer Prize and it was well deserved. It's not an easy read and it won't appeal to everyone, but I loved it. So different.

b
Brabo
Apr 22, 2019

I devoured all 552 pages on a short vacation and cannot think of a more timely message than the one this book sends us about our planet, our lives and our values. The stories that weave into a central theme are well chosen and developed although I liked some more than others.
Richard Powers managed to enhance my perception of nature and I'm grateful for that.

d
Dub
Mar 15, 2019

An impressive read, timely and important subject, creatively crafted. Highly recommended.

l
lukasevansherman
Jan 30, 2019

One of the most extraordinary novels I've read in recent years. I couldn't get into the other books I've read by Powers ("Orfeo," "Galatea 2.0."), but this blew me away. All the stories and characters are linked by trees. Seriously. Winner of the National Book Award and possibly the most ambitious and impressive book of 2018.

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Jan 06, 2019

I found this book to be an impressive feat of writing, but one that completely failed to connect with me on the emotional level I was expecting, considering its subject matter. Five stars for the writing, two stars for my personal enjoyment of it, plus a few bonus points for its timeliness.

TechLibrarian Dec 03, 2018

I'm surprised that I hadn't more about this book, it's really an impressive feat, and both literary and compelling. I didn't know what I was in for, but in a nutshell, there are a handful of characters whose lives are affected in some manner or other by trees. Eventually their stories converge and branch. Along the way, the author shares lots of cool facts about trees and forests (not unlike The Hidden Life of Trees, except of course that this is fiction!). As a few of the characters join protests to protect forests, conflicts arise, many of which seem to be based on real life events. This book raises questions about environmentalism, activism, sentience, ecoterrorism, etc. etc.

Be forewarned that this book is massive! In that respect and its subject matter, I'd liken it to Annie Proulx's The Barkskins. Yet, I think many people would find it worth their while, as it's thought-provoking and entertaining both. The audio is well-read, though I think I would have liked the print version as well.

l
LauraSteinert
Nov 29, 2018

Partly my fault that I don't like this--I thought it was a novel It isn't. It is 503 pages of overwritten short stories. The stories are all the same: some people are good; some people are bad, and all people make mistakes, but all trees are good, and good trees don't make mistakes. Good book if you belong to the English Major White Male Novelist is King Club and worship James Joyce, Herman Melville, and Henry James; otherwise, it is a bit tedious.

e
EmilyEm
Nov 26, 2018

Trees and people who have their lives touched in incredible ways by them fill these remarkable stories. Epic in scope but so, so beguiling in the telling.

What starts as individual stories, fascinating in their own right, interconnects by the book’s end. Just a few parts slowed down for me. Every reader will have favorite characters and storylines that resonate. I read the author’s earlier 'The Echo Maker' in 2005 because a friend recommended how the author blends science in his storytelling art. This book does the same. Such a talented writer.

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