The Overstory

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This book was on the New York Times Best Books Of The Last 125 Years list, as voted on by their readers. I turned that list (the ones I hadn't already read) into a reading project. And so… I was underwhelmed by this one. But now I only have five books to go!

But I can see why NYT readers might like it! It also won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. But so did Walter Duranty.

I went in knowing next to nothing about it, not even reading the dust cover flaps. This was a good move. The first section of the book, “Roots”, is wonderful: essentially eight short stories, presenting nine characters. The stories are variously horrible, hilarious, heartfelt, honest, heartbreaking, and that’s just the Hs. If only the rest of the book were like this. Instead, things take a turn toward the tedious, tendentious, tortuous,... Ah well.

I think this is the ecological version of War and Peace. And I say that never having read War and Peace.

Executive summary: It's about trees. Trees are good. Trees are our friends. And we're so mean to them.

So: a grownup version of The Giving Tree and The Lorax. (There are shout-outs to both these works along the way.) We follow those nine characters over the next few decades, and a host of others, as they get into eco-activism, branching into eco-protests, then to eco-vandalism, and … eventually worse. Not all the earnest folks in the book make it to the final pages.

Last Modified 2023-05-30 8:53 AM EDT