|E-pub ☽ The Overstory ♖ eBooks or Kindle ePUB free

Richard Powers structural approach to The Overstory breaks with traditional plotting The result is two books in one, each designed to appeal to a different type of reader The flaw in this approach is that the book either reads like a literary triumph that starts slow then builds to something satiating, or it reads like a bait and switch with a breathtaking start followed by a wearisome and long winded trek to the conclusion Part 1 called Roots reads like a magnificent short story collect Richard Powers structural approach to The Overstory breaks with traditional plotting The result is two books in one, each designed to appeal to a different type of reader The flaw in this approach is that the book either reads like a literary triumph that starts slow then builds to something satiating, or it reads like a bait and switch with a breathtaking start followed by a wearisome and long winded trek to the conclusion Part 1 called Roots reads like a magnificent short story collection The backstory and exposition that would normally be woven throughout a book is delivered in several rousing anecdotes Nine protagonists are introduced, their stories ranging from sweeping multi generational sagas to brief glimpses into their private lives These characters remain separate in Roots, yet their stories are united by meaningful interaction with trees Each of their stories arrives at an arresting climax before Powers hits the pause button Roots will likely appeal to fans of 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster or The Sport of Kings by C E Morgan The remaining three fourths of the book, however, are something else entirely Parts 2 through 4 called Trunk, Crown, and Seed, respectively sees these nine characters being inextricably drawn together Their lives entangle, their shared interests and unique experiences with trees drive their actions This portion of the book is arguably slower, with fewer revelations about the characters andattention dedicated to exploring themes Powers pulls back the curtain to introduce trees as a tenth character and forces us to examine our role in, and relationship to, nature All ten characters share similar beliefs, fight for the same causes, face the same external conflict while wrestling with minimal or no internal conflict , and everyone gets along It s a startling contrast to the first part of the book a harrowing and captivating intro that promises heartbreak and drama, followed by a stagnant alternative book in which the captivating backstories have very little bearing on the overall narrative At times, Powers writing is as beautiful and wondrous as nature, and his messages about activism and resistance are poignant but, ultimately, his execution is uneven and the final product is a book bloated with redundant characters The bends in the alders speak of long ago disasters Spikes of pale chinquapin flowers shake down their pollen soon they will turn into spiny fruits Poplars repeat the wind s gossip Persimmons and walnuts set out their bribes and rowans their blood red clusters Ancient oaks wave prophecies of future weather The several hundred kinds of hawthorn laugh at the single name their forced to share. Shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2018, The Overstory is a brilliant and passionate book about humans and their relationship to trees and the natural environment.The first half of the book is exceptional Written like short stories, 9 characters are introduced separately with their tree story Each story has an event that has happened to change the life of the character by the tree or trees that shaped them The stories are phenomenal.The second half of the book is about these same characters be Shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2018, The Overstory is a brilliant and passionate book about humans and their relationship to trees and the natural environment.The first half of the book is exceptional Written like short stories, 9 characters are introduced separately with their tree story Each story has an event that has happened to change the life of the character by the tree or trees that shaped them The stories are phenomenal.The second half of the book is about these same characters being drawn together to fight the cause of saving trees Environmental activism is the center of this part of the book and it s fight against logging companies who are destroying the American forests Richard Powers shows such compassion and enthusiasm throughout his book However, I found the second half to be too long Some editing would have gone a long way His book is 500 pages long and not an easy one to get through It is well researched and very thought provoking, however A book that won t leave the reader for a long time.4 out of 5 stars This book has an interesting structure and it is well written I get what Powers is going for conceptually The character sketches, which read like short stories are wonderful But then the book gets less engaging, shall we say I stopped reading it because I just could not read onepassage of florid description about trees or visions or highways I couldn t do it But if you love trees, this is a good book for you I get why it won the Pulitzer. Further Update I can t help it Powers writing does something to me I ve now finished a re read of this book and I am going back to 5 stars It s a book that really rewards a second reading It is much darker than I remember from first read suicide, disillusionment, betrayal on top of the destruction of the natural world and also muchemotional The latter of those two surprised me because I thought that knowing the story would reduce the emotional impact, but the reverse happened.I lo Further Update I can t help it Powers writing does something to me I ve now finished a re read of this book and I am going back to 5 stars It s a book that really rewards a second reading It is much darker than I remember from first read suicide, disillusionment, betrayal on top of the destruction of the natural world and also muchemotional The latter of those two surprised me because I thought that knowing the story would reduce the emotional impact, but the reverse happened.I loved all the comparisons of speed humans, the natural world, computers and I got a lotout of Neelay s story this time through.So, whilst I can understand the criticisms some have made, I m choosing to ignore those bits and take the novel as a whole which is, I think, required reading Update on reflection, I got a bit excited about having a new Richard Powers book to read and I have definitely, despite what I say below, read better books this year Consequently, my rating has dropped to 4 stars There is also the fact that Powers himself has written several books better than this one Two quotes from different parts of this bookThe best arguments in the world won t change a person s mind The only thing that can do that is a good story AndYes And what do all good stories do There are no takers Neelay holds up his arms and extends his palms in the oddest gesture In another moment, leaves will grow from his fingers Birds will come and nest in them They kill you a little They turn you into something you weren t I should come clean at the start of this review Richard Powers is my favourite author I have read all his previous novels and have been desperate to read this one ever since I first heard about it a few months ago I am grateful to the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read an ARC a couple of months prior to publication date.The overstory is the name given to the part of a forest that protrudes above the canopy When you look at a rainforest, for example, what you see from above is the canopy with trees standing out above it What you don t see unless you get into the rainforest is the understory that sits below the canopy but above the ground, then the shrub layer below that and, finally, the forest floor.It is clear from page 1 of this book that the trees will be the stars of the show Repeatedly, they are referred to asthe most wondrous products of four billion years of creationand the book is shot through with the most astonishing and mind blowing information about trees In particular, the book tells us a lot about how and what trees communicate with each other For example, when a tree comes under threat from an insect of some kind, it tells its neighbours who respond by releasing insecticide to protect themselves In a large forest, many trees whose roots meet actually meld their root systems together making the whole forest an interconnected network where the trees nurture their young and heal their wounded Not so long ago, all this was the stuff of ridicule, but today a lot of it has been demonstrated andis being discovered all the time.What Richard Powers wants his readers to realise is what this means for humanity He wants us to realise how important trees are for the world And he chooses to do this not with a text book but with a story.His story is structured like a tree The first 150 pages consist of the Roots These are 8 apparently independent short stories giving us the back story for 9 different people One, for example, tells us the family history of a some immigrants into America mid 1800s ending with an artist in recent times who inherits the family collection of photographs all of the same chestnut tree taking at monthly intervals over generations In another, a hearing and speech impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with each other The unifying theme across all the stories is the presence of trees And it is worth noting those trees because, as many people know, trees have huge mythical and symbolic meanings and the trees Powers chooses for each of his characters are not random selections.The next 200 pages are Trunk Here the stories of the individuals that we now know quite well start to merge and connect Some merge completely, others connect tangentially This passage is overtly political Don t expect an unbiased overview this is an impassioned plea for the protection of trees set in the form of a story It is an attempt to make readers realise how temporary humans are in the grand scheme of thingsBut people have no idea what time is They think it s a line, spinning out from three seconds behind them, then vanishing just as fast into the three seconds of fog just ahead They can t see that time is one spreading ring wrapped around another, outward and outward until the thinnest skin of Now depends for its being on the enormous mass of everything that has already diedand how muchpermanent trees areOut in the yard, all around the house, the things they ve planted in years gone by are making significance, making meaning, as easily as they make sugar and wood from nothing, from air, and sun, and rain But the humans hear nothing Then we have 120 pages called Crown where the stories separate after a dramatic climax to Trunk, but remain connected, branching out in different directions.Then, finally, Seeds tells us some of the outcomes of the stories and leaves us poised for the next steps in others It includes a plea for us to look at things differentlyThe planet s lungs will be ripped out And the law will let this happen, because harm was never imminent enough Imminent, at the speed of people, is too late The law must judge imminent at the speed of trees I think this is perhaps one of Powers most accessible novels It feels to me, fresh from finishing it, like his most passionate one Yes, there is some science, but a lot of it is explained carefully This novel does not require the scientific background that some of Powers novels have asked the reader for And there is no music in this book, which is the other thing that Powers often includes in his novels and often does so in a fairly technical way This one is, by contrast, faremotional it feels like a book Powers has written because he wants, as the quote at the start of this review says, to change people s minds In my case, he is perhaps preaching to the converted because I am already a believer in conservation and already convinced of the importance of trees Even so, this book taught me many things and fired up a stronger passion in me for the natural world I have to hope that others will read it and become equally convinced of the need for intelligent conservation work.I know I am biased because of my love for all of Powers novels, but I think it is possible I have now, even only in January, read my favourite book of 2018 I m actually not quite sure how I felt about this one but also spoilers are going to follow before anyone gets angry at me The book starts out by telling what are seemingly separate stories about a variety of characters, so at first I thought it was just going to be a collection of short stories That felt sort of confusing though because we met about 9 or 10 characters in like the first 100 150 pages and the book itself is 500 pages I just thought to myself is this a collection of 50 short st I m actually not quite sure how I felt about this one but also spoilers are going to follow before anyone gets angry at me The book starts out by telling what are seemingly separate stories about a variety of characters, so at first I thought it was just going to be a collection of short stories That felt sort of confusing though because we met about 9 or 10 characters in like the first 100 150 pages and the book itself is 500 pages I just thought to myself is this a collection of 50 short stories Eventually though the stories seem to converge together.When the stories come together though there are still a few characters who don t directly interact, or when they do it s in a very brief way There s also a lot of ambiguity through out the book on a few things For one thing it s implied that Olivia is Ray and Dorothy s daughter but they are supposedly childless Eventually it s also implied that the chestnut tree in their backyard is their daughter so perhaps Olivia is a human avatar for the tree itself There was also this implication that Patricia commits suicide when she s speaking at the conference but there s never any kind of confirmation of the fact There s also a convergence of three characters at that point in the story with Neelay and Mimi both attending the conference It made that whole plot point sort of confusing because both seem to anticipate that Patricia is about to commit suicide I think the book alternates between being clear and easy to follow and then lapsing into ambiguity and it can make it hard to tell what is happening at times I think the descriptive language just makes it even harder sometimes to follow along I think it also covers a lot of themes that made it feel like the book itself was all over the place I felt like we could have done without Neelay s storyline for sure at the very least even if I understand what Power s was trying to do with it I did really enjoy the writing and the structure of the story I thought it was really cool how things unfolded and came together It felt very in line with the idea of branching that was brought up again and again through out the book Sometimes the book felt really obvious though and I feel like it could have been stronger if it alluded to things sometimes instead of spelling it out every time I think it might also be a little hard to read passage upon passage describing trees endlessly Overall I enjoyed the book, especially the writing and the novelty of the structure and storyline I liked the way there was repetition on certain themes and we saw a reoccurrence of sentences passages through out I did think it could ve been stronger if it was edited down to take out Neelay s part of the story though because that felt like the weakest part of the storyline to me personally This has won the Pulitzer Prize Richard Powers writes with ambition, passion and reverence on the world of trees, their ancient intelligence and their central place in the fragile ecosystem This is a dense and epic work of environmental fiction, a picture of the state of our planet and how humanity has contributed to its degradation Whilst the over riding central character of this are trees, he interweaves the stories of the lives of 9 disparate individuals, within a four part structure of Ro This has won the Pulitzer Prize Richard Powers writes with ambition, passion and reverence on the world of trees, their ancient intelligence and their central place in the fragile ecosystem This is a dense and epic work of environmental fiction, a picture of the state of our planet and how humanity has contributed to its degradation Whilst the over riding central character of this are trees, he interweaves the stories of the lives of 9 disparate individuals, within a four part structure of Roots, Trunk, Crown and Seeds The stories of the 9 people appear to be isolated but interlinked with their varying connections to trees and their growing contribution in their efforts to prevent the destruction of forests and woods Powers immerses us in the world of trees, so wondrous, coming at the theme from multiple perspectives, packed with elements of science and a dollop of magical realism.This is not a perfect or an easy read, there are occasions when Powers just cannot help himself from over egging the narrative with his heavy handed need to hammer home the same points a little too assiduously However, this powerful paean to the treasure that are trees and nature, highlights one of the most important issues in our contemporary world, the state of the planet that our younger and future generations are set to inherit People have failed to see the wood for the trees, thereby underlining our inability to intuit the place of humans amidst the wider ecosystems of the Earth we rely on to live and survive This is an elegaic, extraordinary, and emotive read, if faintly exasperating at times, a critically important novel for our times on the issues surrounding sustainability Many thanks to Random House Vintage |E-pub ☣ The Overstory ♴ The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of and paean to the natural world From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond 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 catastropheA New York Times Bestseller Richard Powers s The Overstory soars up through the canopy of American literature and remakes the landscape of environmental fiction.Long celebrated for his compelling, cerebral books, Powers demonstrates a remarkable ability to tell dramatic, emotionally involving stories while delving into subjects many readers would otherwise find arcane He s written about genetics, pharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence, music and photography In 2006, his novel about neurology, The Echo Maker, won a Richard Powers s The Overstory soars up through the canopy of American literature and remakes the landscape of environmental fiction.Long celebrated for his compelling, cerebral books, Powers demonstrates a remarkable ability to tell dramatic, emotionally involving stories while delving into subjects many readers would otherwise find arcane He s written about genetics, pharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence, music and photography In 2006, his novel about neurology, The Echo Maker, won a National Book Award And now he s turned his attention,fully than ever before, to our imperiled biome and particularly to the world s oldest, grandest life forms trees The Overstory moves the way an open field evolves into a thick forest slowly, then inevitably For a while, its various stories develop independently, and it s not apparent that they have anything to do with one another But have faith in this world maker Powers is working through tree history, not human history, and the effect is like a time lapse video Soon enough his disparate characters set out branches that touch and mingle Before the Civil War, a Norwegian immigrant travels to Iowa and begins homesteading in the largely empty new To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post https www.washingtonpost.com entert The Overstory is part short stories, part tree porn, part rant, and part ramble It adds up to an impressive literary achievement that will linger with me for a long time, even while the reading experience is generally tedious At times the characters are intriguing, at least once does plot play a role, and there s even a fleeting moment of tension In other words, if you only enjoy edge of your seat thrillers this isn t your book If you re obsessed with trees, it might be.I m by all means a The Overstory is part short stories, part tree porn, part rant, and part ramble It adds up to an impressive literary achievement that will linger with me for a long time, even while the reading experience is generally tedious At times the characters are intriguing, at least once does plot play a role, and there s even a fleeting moment of tension In other words, if you only enjoy edge of your seat thrillers this isn t your book If you re obsessed with trees, it might be.I m by all means a bonafide tree hugger Literally and figuratively As seen above, this is me hugging a giant sequoia at Sequoia National Park When characters in this book stage a protest by sitting high in California Redwoods to prevent them from being cut down, it s easy to picture the scene My heart breaks at the mere thought of chopping down these landmarks Still, the book is hard book to get into I don t think I ever picked it up with joy or a desire to find out what happens next.That s not entirely true During the first 150 pages, which is basically a standalone collection of short stories, Powers introduces characters who are all significantly impacted by trees The trees linger in the background, seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but suddenly they are the whole world Though there s no hook or inciting incident in these pages, it works The theme that trees are integral to human life repeats throughout, but never so well as these slice of life chapters.As the book progresses, it becomes clear the author or publisher wanted this to be a novel and not a collection of short stories There s a refrain about hearing the voice of trees, which I don t disagree with but comes across hokey, and one of the characters gets jail time It s all a bit forced to be honest.The Overstory succeeds, however, by staying on message Whether or not the plot points if you can call them that make any narrative sense, one thing is consistent a love for trees, a warning to those who disregard them, and a tutorial on how to recognize their significance These aspects in particular are worthy of admiration If you can write a book that significantly alters a person s worldview, it s an incredible book I don t care how boring it is And even me, tree hugging me, cannot look at trees in the same way I ve always recognized their beauty, their subtle and overt impact on my life, but I don t know that I ve ever heard their voice Now, perhaps, I can Another hour Deserts of infinite boredom punctuated by peaks of freakish intensityPowers doing my review writing for me My reading experience ofThe Overstoryoften felt like a forced march of The Appalachian Trail while being read poetry In all likelihood that might appeal to some people, however I prefer a less arduous journey I tried to escape this book once, flinging it aside at around page 60 but several positive reviews from trusty readers and the growing likelihood that this will ma Another hour Deserts of infinite boredom punctuated by peaks of freakish intensityPowers doing my review writing for me My reading experience ofThe Overstoryoften felt like a forced march of The Appalachian Trail while being read poetry In all likelihood that might appeal to some people, however I prefer a less arduous journey I tried to escape this book once, flinging it aside at around page 60 but several positive reviews from trusty readers and the growing likelihood that this will make the MB shortlist made me put my hiking boots back on.This is not my first rodeo with Richard Powers I read his 2014 shortlisted book Orfeo a novel that deep dives into molecular biology and classical music and combines them in grand esoteric passages that at times seem barely penetrable Despite this I ended up admiring Orfeo I had hoped for something similar to occur with this book, particularly as I admire books that find ways to incorporate the hard sciences Unfortunately, I came away from this wondering if I might have been better served reading Wohlleben sSecret life of trees.I am aware Powers has a degree in Physics as well as literature and that becomes obvious in sentences like these Ten million points flicker in the falling dark, like logic gates of a circuit cranking out solutions to a calculation generations in the makingThrough the ard arch behind the checkpoint, a cell subtended hallway disappears lengthwise down an optical illusion into forever I do admire him for attempting to mesh these disciplines but it makes for a grandiose writing style and a sometimes odd juxtaposition of disciplines These being not limited to dendrology, ecology, eco warfare, computer science, psychology, mythology, poetry, evolution, and taxonomy This often verges on information dumping and threatens to lose sight of the fact this is suppose to be a novel My other major concern with this book was the understandable but ultimately unhelpful craze to anthropomorphise scientific research Wohlleben s book has garnered much attention but it is far from accepted doctrine to talk of complex tree networks as if they have intention and consciousness Powers leans heavily upon this, trees bleed sap, they have plans to travel north, they communicate intention with each other, they would talk to us if only we were listening Certainly there is scientific evidence to support communication and symbiotic relationships and much else interesting besides But it seems to me a fallacy to try to view these findings through a lens of human behaviour Is that not an egregious form of egotism on our part There are far better reviews available that discuss the ecological themes of this book, its unusual structure, the characters and why Powers might win a place on the Man Booker shortlist However, I personally subscribe to the opinion that Annie Proulx did this type of book much better with Barkskins Proulx has a warmth and knack with characters that I think is lacking in The Overstoryand I walked away from it with a much greater sense of the epic scope of ecological crisis.However, it is impossible to spend what ended up being almost two weeks with this book and not find some glimpses of brilliance I am left with a strong sense of having traveled through some delightful arboretum where tree giants are whispering just out of ear shot Much like hiking the Appalachian Trial might feel like days of misery and toil for one or two moments of transcendental bliss so goes the experience of readingThe OverstoryA slog then but not without occasional rewards.Leaving you with the oh so wise Dr Patricia Westerfold She could tell them about a simple machine needing no fuel and little maintenance, one that steadily sequesters carbon, enriches the soil, cools the ground, scrubs the air, scales easily to any size A tech that copies itself and even drops food for free A device so beautiful it s the stuff of poems If forests were patentable she d get an ovation