The Overstory by Richard Powers is a towering book. Slow to come together, it eventually becomes impossible to put down, as trees get their say in about seven different languages. The characters are unique and memorable. And it’s hard to imagine how anyone could know as much as Powers knows about trees, just for starters. Clearly, he picks things up like a magpie. (A main plot line is borrowed directly from the 2010 documentary, If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, for instance.) But he also knows a staggering amount about computer programming, psychology, science, art… The miracle for me comes toward the end, when it seems to me we truly begin to see life from the trees’ perspective. Yes, human beings will come to an end. Trees? Those too.  But life will go on re-inventing itself, whatever happens. And strangely enough, it seems there is solace to be found in that.

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