Monday, April 27, 2020

#118 / Overstory

The Overstory, a new novel by Richard Powers, is reviewed by Barbara Kingsolver in a recent edition of The New York Times Book Review. I have mentioned the book before - and I recommend it.

There are "more than a dozen" major players in Powers' novel, but this is a book, in the end, about trees: 

Trees do most of the things you do, just more slowly. They compete for their livelihoods and take care of their families, sometimes making huge sacrifices for their children. They breathe, eat and have sex. They give gifts, communicate, learn, remember and record the important events of their lives. With relatives and non-kin alike they cooperate, forming neighborhood watch committees — to name one example — with rapid response networks to alert others to a threatening intruder. They manage their resources in bank accounts, using past market trends to predict future needs. They mine and farm the land, and sometimes move their families across great distances for better opportunities. Some of this might take centuries, but for a creature with a life span of hundreds or thousands of years, time must surely have a different feel about it.

And for all that, trees are things to us, good for tables, floors and ceiling beams: As much as we might admire them, we’re still happy to walk on their hearts. It may register as a shock, then, that trees have lives so much like our own. All the behaviors described above have been studied and documented by scientists who carefully avoid the word “behavior” and other anthropomorphic language, lest they be accused of having emotional attachments to their subjects.

I love trees. Here are snapshots of some of my favorites, good friends all, some right here at home and others living at quite some distance. 

I think that The Overstory is a book we need to read!

Image Credit:
(1) -
Other photos from Gary A. Patton 

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