2018 Booker Prize Longlist: The Overstory by Richard Powers

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2018 Booker Prize Longlist: The Overstory by Richard Powers

Jul 24, 2018, 1:25pm

This thread is for discussion of The Overstory by Richard Powers. No unhidden spoiler comments, please.

Editado: Ago 6, 2018, 8:03am

Given the reviews, I see that I’m likely to be an outlier in my response to The Overstory; I think it’s a hot mess. It’s divided into sections (Roots, Trunk, Crown, and Seeds). The first section is a series of eight short stories that introduce nine people and their relation to trees. As a stand-alone book of short stories I liked it. In subsequent sections the character’s paths cross and the story becomes melodramatic and polemical. There’s a lot of, well, “woo-woo,” both from some of the characters and the author. That Powers basically presents the antagonist as “society” and/or “The Man” doesn’t help. A few real people behind those ideas would have been nice. I’m largely sympathetic to what I think Powers was trying to say, but he lost me pretty early on. Dr. Seuss did better in The Lorax.

Sep 3, 2018, 3:46pm

I had a hard time reading this book. So many characters and let’s face it, I’m not that interested in trees. So while the character development was interesting I couldn’t really warm up to the many parts about trees and eco-terrorism. I admire Powers storytelling qualities though.

Nov 8, 2018, 12:18pm

I'm glad I didn't read this one as part of the Booker challenge. It just sounded so boring and long, although I liked two earlier books by Richard Powers very much. But "trees over several decades"??

But then I've been thinking so much about "everything" lately, getting older, the political situation worldwide and especially in Italy, climate change - and suddenly last Sunday I remembered this book and thought it wanted to be read now. Well, it hit the nerve, and perfectly so - and it might not have 2 months ago. 5 years ago I might have hated it. I loved the first part "Roots", felt sad, angry and confused during "Trunk", empty during most of "Crown" and much, much better and peaceful during "Seeds".

I often haven't been happy with Booker decisions in the last years, but the longlist often makes me read a book that's maybe not life-changing, but thought-changing. This was an almost therapeutic read for me.

Sep 5, 2020, 8:37am

Great Book. The ideas expressed stay with you for ages after you finished. Its really a wake up call to mankind