There are books that inform and educate, books that wake you up, snapping on the lights and ringing the alarm, and books that change your life. The Overstory did all that (and more) for me—it cracked me open, challenged me to rethink some fundamental beliefs and experiences, and demanded a fresh start. Richard Powers is an elegant writer—there are sentences on every page so dazzling that they invite a pause and a second look—and a superb storyteller. The vivid characters—wildly diverse, each one distinct and one-of-a-kind—are drawn together by an invisible but irresistible force: life itself.
We all should know by now that exponential growth in any finite system will lead inevitably to collapse. What Richard Powers and some others know (and all of us are poised to learn) is that the earth is speaking to us, and our future depends on attending to the “inscrutable generosity of green things.” What do the trees know? How do they communicate with one another? What are they trying to tell us? How will we hear them in time?
The Overstory is a big, hefty novel about trees in the same sense that Moby-Dick is a big, hefty book about whales.
Read this book and you’ll never again behold a park or garden or woods in the same way.