Archive for the ‘tree species’ Tag

Not Made in the Shade   1 comment

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While unsettling, The Overstory by Richard Powers has some redeeming qualities; however, not enough to make it to a list of what best to read during a pandemic.

The novel is divided into four sections: Roots, Trunk, Crown and Seeds. Yes, it’s about trees – all trees and a variety of people who try to save, understand and replicate them in a world that’s generally superficially appreciative.

The best parts are those about the nine main characters and descriptions of specific tree species. The character development is powerful; each person’s story is unique and could stand alone. Yet, it’s predictable that at some point they will intersect – some more intensely than others.

Besides the characters, it is interesting to learn about different trees and their role in our world besides providing shade, bearing fruit or as source material for everyday products. The narrative spans time beginning with immigrants in the Iowa plains to the Redwood forests of the west coast. Relationships form, most of which are unhealthy, and are the source of many of the novel’s disturbing aspects despite being able to see what forests add to their lives.

The result for several is eco-terrorism. A disparate group form to protest logging in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, it’s fascinating to read about efforts to protect an ancient Redwood or how a misunderstood scientist is validated. Yet, there’s too much foreshadowing to know that eventually things won’t end well for anyone.

Ironically, the physical element of this tome is in debt to trees.

The Overstory
Three Bookmarks
W.W. Norton & Co., 2018
502 pages