Source Suggests: Hidden Lives No Longer | Book Talk | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Source Suggests: Hidden Lives No Longer 

"The Overstory" is a winner

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Before you stroll the streets of First Friday, check out these great reading suggestions courtesy of Dudley's Bookshop Cafe. Then stop into the shop for a discount on the books!


These are just a few of the words I've heard from customers who've already read Richard Powers' latest opus, "The Overstory." We hear lots of great things about the books that leave our shop, but this one feels different. Media reviews have noted echoes of Thoreau, Emerson and Melville, and those links to the past are absolutely warranted.

Powers starts out with nine stories about disparate characters across the country, each with a story centered around a particular tree or species. Among them we meet Patricia, whose research will be familiar to anyone who read "The Hidden Life of Trees." Other characters include college student turned eco-warrior, Olivia, Doug, the Vietnam vet who passes through Bend, and the Hoel family, who's cared for a lone chestnut tree through the generations. This last story may be the best thing I've read all year.

Powers brings all of these characters together to tell the story of a Pacific Northwest old growth forest in danger of being sold off and logged. It's at this point when the trees themselves come to the forefront. Powers shows off his skills as a novelist as he beautifully draws parallels between the lives of these trees and our own.

Barbara Kingsolver's New York Times review called it a "masterpiece," and I couldn't agree more. It'll be a travesty if "The Overstory" isn't on the shortlist for every major literary award at the end of the year. No matter on what side of the logging debate you fall, you'll never look out your window at that stand of Ponderosa or juniper quite the same way again.

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