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Book Review: The Overstory by Richard Powers

Arbor DayWhat of the life of a tree? Will it live on to sing its epic ballad, vibratory, electric, never ceasing to deliver free food and shelter for itself and other species? Or will it be cut short by a race of highly evolved life forms who, in the thrall of rabid capitalism, will do anything to show a quarterly profit? This is one of the question raised by Richard Power's latest novel The Overstory, a sprawling chestnut tree of a tale which delves into the lives of nine unique souls who seem to find a commonality by story's end. Powers seeds his work with these characters, feeding and watering them steadily until they finally sprout into a coherent composition with tendrils rooted  squarely in place and crowns reaching up into the ether.

The trunk of the novel takes shape when one of the nine, Olivia Vandergriff, a fresh dropout from some unnamed northern college, who has already died by electrocution, been revived- reborn so to speak- is visited suddenly by "presences&…

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