The Overstory

The Overstory

A Novel

Book - 2018 | First edition.
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"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 to life by creatures of air and light. A hearing-and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, 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."--Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780393635522
Branch Call Number: POWER
Characteristics: 502 pages ; 25 cm


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ontherideau Jun 26, 2019

Thought provoking work by a sincere author.

From the critics

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Nov 13, 2019

One of the most amazing books I’ve read in years! Poetry and botany combined with fascinating characters. The only character I had trouble relating to was the adult Adam. I just finished it and I’m tempted to sit down and start reading it all over again. I don’t feel that way about very many books; I could count them on one hand. This is definitely one of them! Amazing!

Nov 12, 2019

Rec by Ari

Nov 02, 2019

Animism at epic scale. The Overstory is formidable in length and complexity; it takes commitment to follow through to the end. But even reading just some parts -- notably, the "roots" of Patricia Westerford -- is likely to profoundly change your appreciation of our natural world.

Sep 26, 2019

With the rain forest burning in the Amazon and land being cleared for palm oil plantations in Asia, it is hoped that this book about trees and activism will inspire people to look at nature and take action to protect it.

Sep 22, 2019

from Jane D
Don woul like it, too
Sept 2019

Sep 18, 2019

After I both heard this novel won a Pulitzer, and Naomi Klein heartily recommended it, I gave it a shot. My first thought is that the novel is first and foremost, ambitious- overly so. If I had to compare it to a film, it would be 1999's MAGNOLIA. Like Paul Thomas Anderson's opus about a great deal of characters going through a great deal of personal growth in a connected universe, it feels like it needs to just take a breath and calm down. More characters and more pages not a work of art make. THE OVERSTORY does a good job of trying to connect readers to nature through all things trees (you'll definitely learn about different species if you're amenable), but because there's too many characters, some of them fail to register and can feel unbelievable at times. It's a noble effort, and certainly one that is timely in our time of climate crisis, but its Pulitzer status makes it overrated when it's time to deliver, particularly a soft ending where it putters and whimpers, rather than crashing and burning. It's also funny how something that is a lover of all things trees doesn't get into the eco system that ties into it, water, carbon, etc- but then it would be thousands of pages given its ambitious length... All in all a mostly good but not great book that stands out for what it tries to do, rather for what it actually does.

As a side note I also wonder if I would have enjoyed the book more if I had had more than 2 weeks of maximum library lending time to read it- but that's not the book's fault!

Sep 05, 2019

I really wanted to like this book; I love the theme and actually was present at some of the protests against clear cutting on the West Coast, but I was thoroughly disappointed. I found the writing clumsy, the plot insignificant, the science (both the botany and the psychology), very superficial, and the character development pretty much absent. Not to mention that the idea of interconnected story is marred by the fact that some stories are disconnected and entirely optional and could be removed without any impact on the book. For two vastly superior ecology themed novels I recommend Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Aug 31, 2019

Cheryl Barrow

Aug 09, 2019

This was not a particularly easy read. It began with a series of disconnected chapters each about a person or a family; disconnected except by the importance of trees — or a tree — in each of their lives. Once one person’s story had ended, you didn’t hear about that person again for quite awhile; I had to review those first chapters and make notes in order to follow the rest of the book. It was so worth it. The story was about the lives of trees — how they help each other, how they help people, how people can assign emotional importance to them (understanding that the trees will come through for them?), how people can misunderstand and misuse trees’ contribution to human life and the life of the planet. It was science seen on an emotional level. Parts of the book harkened back to the time when activists lived atop trees to prevent them from being cut down. One of the most memorable and poignant passages in the book was when one of the activists lay down on the stump of a massive and ancient tree and described the position of his body using the tree’s rings as a time line; his feet matched up with the most recent ring, (I must get the book back from my friend in order to find the passage.)

Jul 20, 2019

I started out really loving this book - but I found the ending(s) a bit disappointing. And maybe a bit obtuse? The author REALLY knows a lot about a lot of stuff! (think "University of Chicago" - though I don't think he went there.) and that part is very interesting. But the last 150 pages were kind of a let down. :-(

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Aug 09, 2019

Page 84 of the hardback: “...the greatest flaw of the species is its overwhelming tendency to mistake agreement for truth.”

Aug 09, 2019

Page 7 of the hardback: “Life is a battle between the Maker and His creation.”

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