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The Overstory (2018)

de Richard Powers

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
3,6621772,754 (4.08)398
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. In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel 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, The Overstory 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, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. 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. The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity's self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? -- from dust jacket.… (més)
  1. 41
    Barkskins de Annie Proulx (GerrysBookshelf)
  2. 20
    Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest de Suzanne Simard (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: A book by the scientist who inspired the Powers character "Patricia Westerford."
  3. 31
    The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods de Julia Hill (Gwendydd)
    Gwendydd: One of the main characters of Overstory is loosely based on the life of Julia Butterfly Hill.
  4. 10
    The Bone Clocks de David Mitchell (Cecrow)
  5. 10
    Greenwood de Michael Christie (OscarWilde87)
  6. 11
    The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed de John Vaillant (Gwendydd)
    Gwendydd: These books both talk a lot about the giant trees of the west coast, logging, and anti-logging activists.
  7. 01
    The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth de Richard Conniff (Sandwich76)
  8. 01
    River of Gods de Ian McDonald (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: The forest in Powers' book takes on the organizing and animating function of the river in McDonald's. Both of these novels also have a regard for artificial intelligence that de-centers it from the human perspective.
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» Mira també 398 mencions

Anglès (173)  Neerlandès (2)  Alemany (1)  Francès (1)  Totes les llengües (177)
Es mostren 1-5 de 177 (següent | mostra-les totes)
So of course very well-written in many ways, on the level of sentences and paragraphs and scenes. Big themes, thoroughly explored. Important topics. I learned a lot about trees and enjoyed much of it. I did not like the character of Olivia: she was too close to the manic pixie dream girl trope. Everyone falls in love with her because of course. She is right because of course. She dies because of course--so a little fridging in there too. I also don't think the alternative timelines/branches concept worked that well. I've seen it a lot and I understand why he used it but I don't think it was that effective. Felt like an out. And fed into the dream girl aspects of Olivia. Also, was there a single Black or Latinx character anywhere, even secondary or walk-on? Maybe there was one? How can you write an American Novel without any Black or Latinx characters? Especially an environmental novel? The main characters who are Asian also drifted toward stereotype--the computer genius Indian American (also some ableist stereotypes there, plus the other character's disability that comes and goes) and the Chinese-white character with cague ethnic presentation, broken-English with mystery trinkets dad, etc. And then the whole staring into the eyes as therapy. Anyway, raises some important issues, mostly readable, but a limited work. ( )
  eas7788 | May 10, 2022 |
I didn’t finish this book. The first part was interesting. Short stories of people that did jot seem to connect to each other. This author has a fluid writing style and a way of turning a phrase that I really enjoyed. After reading 200 pages, I just lost interest. Too much philosophizing,
  janismack | Apr 25, 2022 |
Beautiful and gripping if you’re into trees and nature writing. I liked the first half much better than the second half. Overall, the structure was more organic than literary; fitting. A collection of short beginning chapters are the roots of character development, these stories cohere into a sturdy large central plot trunk, then a lengthy conclusion is the canopy of characters dissipating into sky and wind and light and meaninglessness. I felt it became needlessly repetitive in its message, returning to the same or similar natural phenomena and climate warnings in ways that didn’t add much to character development, but only to the mood and style that was already firmly in place. Like he had poetically riffed on all his research for a bunch of pages that he couldn’t resist not killing off for the final edit. The canopy needed pruning.

Like a silly, short-lived human I wanted more meaning, more connections between the characters, who were rich and fascinating. Upon finishing I was surprised to see I had already, years ago, read an earlier book of Powers, Galatea 2.2. I rated it poorly because it felt too contrived, with a grand theme but lacking substance, just an extended rhetorical question. He’s definitely matured since then, but once again I feel like he tried for too much in one bite here. Was it really the story of trees and life? Or was it a story of man? I felt it could have been more powerful had it been more compact. Still... it raises enough questions about its own themes to make it fairly powerful.

Ultimately, I found it extremely depressing throughout, which I’m not confident was the final message. It made me think of the famous Thoreau quote that Rick Bass recently brought back to my consciousness: “I take infinite pains to know all the phenomena of the spring, for instance, thinking that I have here the entire poem, and then, to my chagrin, I hear that it is but an imperfect copy that I possess and have read, that my ancestors have torn out many of the first leaves and grandest passages, and mutilated it in many places. I should not like to think that some demigod had come before me and picked out some of the best of the stars… I wish to know an entire heaven and an entire earth.” ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
Beautiful and gripping if you’re into trees and nature writing. I liked the first half much better than the second half. Overall, the structure was more organic than literary; fitting. A collection of short beginning chapters are the roots of character development, these stories cohere into a sturdy large central plot trunk, then a lengthy conclusion is the canopy of characters dissipating into sky and wind and light and meaninglessness. I felt it became needlessly repetitive in its message, returning to the same or similar natural phenomena and climate warnings in ways that didn’t add much to character development, but only to the mood and style that was already firmly in place. Like he had poetically riffed on all his research for a bunch of pages that he couldn’t resist not killing off for the final edit. The canopy needed pruning.

Like a silly, short-lived human I wanted more meaning, more connections between the characters, who were rich and fascinating. Upon finishing I was surprised to see I had already, years ago, read an earlier book of Powers, Galatea 2.2. I rated it poorly because it felt too contrived, with a grand theme but lacking substance, just an extended rhetorical question. He’s definitely matured since then, but once again I feel like he tried for too much in one bite here. Was it really the story of trees and life? Or was it a story of man? I felt it could have been more powerful had it been more compact. Still... it raises enough questions about its own themes to make it fairly powerful.

Ultimately, I found it extremely depressing throughout, which I’m not confident was the final message. It made me think of the famous Thoreau quote that Rick Bass recently brought back to my consciousness: “I take infinite pains to know all the phenomena of the spring, for instance, thinking that I have here the entire poem, and then, to my chagrin, I hear that it is but an imperfect copy that I possess and have read, that my ancestors have torn out many of the first leaves and grandest passages, and mutilated it in many places. I should not like to think that some demigod had come before me and picked out some of the best of the stars… I wish to know an entire heaven and an entire earth.” ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
"To be human is to confuse a satisfying story with a meaningful one, and to mistake life for something huge with two legs." (383)

The profuse blurbs in my copy of this Pulitzer-winning novel include one from Nathaniel Rich at The Atlantic, highlighting author Richard Powers' anomalous work in a field where "literary convention favors novelists who write narrowly about personal experience," and Powers himself has been quoted as complaining that “Literary fiction has largely become co-opted by that belief that meaning is an entirely personal thing.” None of which is to say that this book lacks vividly-realized characters with complex interiority. But it may perhaps account for why the comparanda that occurred to me when reading it were more science-fictional than "literary."

Certainly the "cli-fi" element will put many readers in mind of the work of Kim Stanley Robinson, who has treated this large theme in many capable novels. I also observed a kinship to Ian McDonald's River of Gods, where the forest in Powers' book takes on the organizing and animating function of the river in McDonald's. Both of these novels have a regard for artificial intelligence that de-centers it from the human perspective. Yet another book brought to mind is The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, a work of science fiction published as literary fiction. Mitchell's "atemporals" have some of their role taken up by the trees in The Overstory, but more importantly his social and philosophical concerns and the way he illustrated them through personal situations seemed quite similar to what I found in this book.

In addition to beautiful prose and profound reflection, there's a considerable amount of failure and death--both arboreal and human--in this novel. It is a sweeping tragedy that brought me to tears a few times. The final summation was a bit less intellectually honest than what I took away from Scranton's Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, but I guess I would still call The Overstory good medicine for those willing to take it.

"And what do all good stories do? ... They kill you a little. They turn you into something you weren't." (412)
5 vota paradoxosalpha | Mar 13, 2022 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 177 (següent | mostra-les totes)
“Literary fiction has largely become co-opted by that belief that meaning is an entirely personal thing,” Powers says. “It’s embraced the idea that life is primarily a struggle of the individual psyche to come to terms with itself. Consequently, it’s become a commodity like a wood chipper, or any other thing that can be rated in terms of utility.” [...]

“I want literature to be something other than it is today,” Powers says. “There was a time when our myths and legends and stories were about something greater than individual well-being. "
afegit per elenchus | editalithub.com, Kevin Berger (Apr 23, 2018)
 
Acquiring tree consciousness, a precondition for learning how to live here on Earth, means learning what things grow and thrive here, independently of us.

We are phenomenally bad at experiencing, estimating, and conceiving of time. Our brains are shaped to pay attention to rapid movements against stable backgrounds, and we’re almost blind to the slower, broader background drift. The technologies that we have built to defeat time—writing and recording and photographing and filming—can impair our memory (as Socrates feared) and collapse us even more densely into what psychologists call the “specious present,” which seems to get shorter all the time. Plants’ memory and sense of time is utterly alien to us. It’s almost impossible for a person to wrap her head around the idea that there are bristlecone pines in the White Mountains of California that have been slowly dying since before humans invented writing.
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Powers, Richardautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Allié, ManfredÜbersetzerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Bierstadt, AlbertAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Chauvin, SergeTraductionautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gaffney, EvanDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Guevara, Teresa Lanero Ladrón deTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Kempf-Allié, GabrieleÜbersetzerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lanero, TeresaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Noorman, JelleTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Quinn, MarysarahDissenyadorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Toren, SuzanneNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Vighi, LiciaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Earth may be alive: not as the ancients saw her--a sentient Goddess with a purpose and foresight--but alive like a tree. A tree that quietly exists, never moving except to sway in the wind, yet endlessly conversing with the sunlight and soil. Using sunlight and water and nutrient minerals to grow and change. But all done so imperceptibly, that to me an old oak tree on the green is the same as it was when I was a child.
--James Lovelock
Tree . . . he watching you. You look at tree, he listen to you. He got no finger, he can't speak. But that leaf . . . he pumping, growing, growing in the night. While you sleeping you dream something. Tree and grass same thing.
--Bill Neidjie
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To be human is to confuse a satisfying story with a meaningful one, and to mistake life for something huge with two legs.
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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. In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel 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, The Overstory 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, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. 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. The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity's self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? -- from dust jacket.

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