The Overstory by Richard Powers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Let's ignore the fact that this won the Pulitzer for '19 for a moment and focus on what's really important:
THIS BOOK IS FREAKING FANTASTIC. We need to push this book on friends, family, and perfect strangers. Everyone should read it. It tells a narrative we need to REMEMBER.
What we need, more than statistics, scientific studies, or someone to strongarm us into doing the right thing, is a story. The only thing that will penetrate our short-sighted skulls is a story. One that takes all of these scientific studies, from naturalism to biology to systems theory to psychology and even to computer science, and gives us a roaringly good narrative that makes it all VITAL.
It's something that kicks us in the gut even while it repeats, with brilliant characters, what most of us have already heard but most of us have been forced to put aside.
We've all heard that there are colonies and colonies of life living in trees. Not just the live ones but the dead ones. They are as abundant and interconnected in a healthy forest as a coral reef. But like coral reefs, we've logged most of the healthy forests out of existence. Cornrows of trees are NOT healthy forests. In a few years, we'll have lost huge percentages of ALL species. In a few more years, we'll be down to half what we had 50 years ago. In a few more years, the entire ecosystem will collapse.
Because we do not have a narrative of ourselves inside the life of the world. We shrug and say we're just trying to survive and continue doing the same thing we've always done. Half measures and less than half measures. And meanwhile, the economies that say we must consume EVERYTHING just to maintain an already slipping lifestyle just a few seconds longer is consuming, wastefully, every other living lifeform on the planet.
We've forgotten that we are a lifeform of and with this planet, it seems. But this book does WONDERS with all the real science couched within a brilliantly entertaining novel to remind us.
Sometimes all it takes is letting your lawn overgrow. Maybe a blight-resistant tree will sprout up and invite all the wildlife back in. :)
Oh, and by the way... WE CAN ALWAYS SURVIVE IN THE FORESTS. Food IS abundant. So what am I saying?
Is this just a novel that makes me proud that I love trees? That it is the only truly rational thing to be?
Because, otherwise, we are collectively committing suicide? You've heard of extinction-level events, right? lol
No. I think it's a great Over-Story. A great narrative that brings a great story back to real science. I laughed at the Stanford Prison Experiment, the real studies on intelligent root systems and fungal networks. How trees really do communicate over vast distances. They have memory. The even call in insects through pheromones to SAVE THEM from predators! The whole ecosystems COMMUNICATE in vast, sometimes very slow ways, and every species responds. Haven't we be doing the same? Do you like your apples and pears? Do you really think that we're that smart to cultivate fruit-bearing trees from out of nowhere? Or are we just taking advantage of trees who are TAKING ADVANTAGE of us? They give us the sweet things, the medicines, the high-value foodstuffs... and tempt us. We spread their genes because we're in a PARTNERSHIP.
We really shouldn't forget that. We should be buying this book for all our friends and families and pushing it on strangers. :) Truly. It's just one of those books that SHOULD be read far and wide.
Enough raving! Go read it!
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