On the More than Human Theme

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Richard on Our 
Theme of the More than Human

From a Think Out Loud Interview on Oregon Public Broadcasting. 


Miller: As I noted this, your new book came out about three years after the Pulitzer prize winning novel, “The Overstory”, which is about a lot of things, but at base maybe the interconnectedness of trees and fungus and us and everything. Do you see a through line between “The Overstory’' and “Bewilderment”?

Powers: I absolutely do. “Bewilderment” was my 12th novel. I’ve been publishing since 1985, so almost four decades, and I’ve been pursuing this trajectory that I was talking about earlier ‒ namely using the books as a way of becoming better versed in different worlds, different ways of thinking about the world. “Overstory” was the first time that I wrote a book where, when I got to the end, I just wanted to keep exploring those same questions ‒ the interdependence of existence into being this kind of vast ramifying branching symbiotic experiment that we’re becoming part of, that we’ve always been a part of, and wanting to tell stories that break down the difference between humans and the more than human world. And I continue those themes in “Bewilderment” but just in a very different way, as you mentioned in a shorter form, far fewer characters, a simpler prose style, but all of these questions: Who are we? How do we live here on earth among the neighbors? Who we have ceased to see and ceased to take seriously? So “Bewilderment” and “Overstory” are in a way connected, underground as it were, by fungal filaments that make them, in a sense, the same story, pursued in very different ways.

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