Imagine that the planet was born at midnight and that its coming-of-age is measured in the course of a 24-hour day. The first few hours are populated only by cooling gasses and asteroids. Single-cell life appears at about 4 am, and doesn’t begin to differentiate into the precursors of plants and animals until late afternoon. By 9 pm there are jellyfish and worms, and dinosaurs show up at 11 pm. By 11:59 pm, animals begin to organize and remember, to learn and then find ways to communicate what they know. Modern man comes onto the scene during the last few seconds before midnight, and almost immediately begins to pull the whole amazing structure of the day down around our ears.
The Overstory by Richard Powers is a novel that explores the enormous question of what it is to be an individual in an expanding global community, and to be the relative newcomers to an ancient, complex, and doggedly fascinating natural world. The story spans several cultures and multiple generations to show us how recent and temporary humans really are against billions of years of natural history, and what an enormous threat we’ve so quickly proven to be to it and to ourselves. We are the unruly guests on a planet that was doing just fine without us, and The Overstory beautifully gives voice to a natural world that can only stand in mute horror at our behaviour.
More to come.
Vote for your favourite book and community library. At the end of the Grey County Reads contest in April, three winners will be chosen randomly from among all voters to receive gift certificates for and one library will win $200 worth of books.