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The Private Lives of Trees

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,437 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
The Private Lives of Trees tells the story of a single night: a young professor of literature named Julián is reading to his step-daughter Daniela and nervously waiting for his wife Verónica to return from her art class. Each night, Julián has been improvising a story about trees to tell Daniela before she goes to sleep, and each Sunday he works on a novel about a man tend ...more
Paperback, 98 pages
Published July 15th 2010 by Open Letter (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,908)
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May 09, 2013 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Mike Puma
Life is a huge album for creating an instantaneous past with loud and definite colors

Our lives are full of faces that come and go, some disappearing forever from our private stage, while others sometimes check back in and out over time. Each of these faces leaves a mark on us through our collisions of selves, sometimes leaving unconscious marks that can be good or bad, and some leaving scars that we carry forever. Alejandro Zambra’s breathtaking novella, The Private Lives of Trees, examines th
Aug 21, 2012 Kris rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kris by: Mike Puma
This is a gem of a short novel. It opens as a professor and writer, Julián, is telling his stepdaughter Daniela a bedtime story while waiting for his wife Verónica to return from an art class. The bedtime story is a sweet, humorous and quirky story about two trees who are friends. As you read on, you learn that Verónica is later than usual, and as time passes, Julián grows progressively more anxious.

In 98 pages, Zambra uses this simple premise to move into a story which is much more than this fr
Jan 11, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Brian by: Mike Puma
When I travel taking photographs of trees is one of my favorite things to do.

Colorado 2006

Life is a huge album for creating an instantaneous past, with loud and definite colors.

A single tree, a private tree, is a visual anomaly. Without others, they can look...

Maasai Mara 2010

Athens 2009

or even, like they might eat you
Kilkenny 2008

In San Francisco, we even point out a tree in its state of alone-ness
One Tree

Alejandro Zambra's beautiful novella reminds the reader how very much like tr
Mike Puma
Mar 02, 2012 Mike Puma rated it it was amazing

A very brief review of a truly wonderful book.

Sometimes, with experimental fiction, I’m left puzzling over whether my reaction to the book constitutes an experimental success or failure—whether my ‘feelings’ about a title are adequate to the author’s intent (I know, I know)—whether I’ve lived up. With TPLoT, I think I have lived up, or rather, the author compelled me to that place where I can ‘live up.’ The constant, though often subtle, reminders that I’m reading a novel work. A character’s imp

Jan 19, 2011 Oriana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2010
Hey guess what? I am becoming a writer for the amazing art & culture blog and micropress CCLaP! And I vamped up this very review for my first contribution!


When I found a proof of this little slip of a book, I assumed it was some kind of sampler, or a teaser maybe. But no: it truly is a complete novel(la?), weighing in at 95 pages. And let me just say right away that this is just another way in which the phenomenal Open Letter Press is challenging American readers -- who says a novel has t
Jan 15, 2011 karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: littry-fiction
what is even better than this book??

oriana's review of this book.

her review is what soothed my terror when i realized i did not have enough book left to carry me through both my lunch break AND my subway ride home, and instead of freaking out (much), i calmly carried a copy of this book to the green room and read it on my lunch break, leaving the riveting conclusion of the iron duke for the subway ride home. phew. crisis averted...

since i already own it and it is an open letter publication, and
Lynne King
Sep 11, 2013 Lynne King rated it really liked it
I read this somewhat surprising novella when I was on a plane the other week, way above the clouds and my mind was full of celestial thoughts as a result of that.

It’s interesting how such a simple story of ninety-eight pages, covering an evening with an individual, can sustain one’s interest from the beginning until the end, and all in one sitting.

Here we have Julián, a somewhat hesitant person, a professor of literature and an author on Sundays (why not Saturday?), telling a bedtime story to hi
Jan 25, 2015 Fionnuala rated it it was ok
My star rating is not a judgement of the quality of Zambra's writing, only of my reaction to it.
Before I write a review, I try to tune into the echoes from the book that remain in my consciousness in order to pin down how it has made me feel and how the reading of it has intersected with my own life. Usually a lot of ideas occur to me fairly quickly and then the review is up and away.
I’ve been very patient since finishing The Private Life of Trees. I’ve tried listening for the echoes but they ar
Marc Kozak
May 15, 2015 Marc Kozak rated it really liked it
Recommended to Marc by: The Millions
I sometimes think about a girlfriend I had in college, and think it's strange that the most memorable thing about our year together was that I don't remember the relationship anymore. By all accounts, it was a good relationship -- there was no drama, we had fun together, I may have even been in love with her at the time. But here I am, not even ten years later, and I can't quite piece together what she looks like in my mind. I can't recall what we talked about, where we liked to go, the kinds of ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Gloria rated it really liked it
Take a quirky, somewhat self-absorbed, lovable character from a Steve Martin novel ...

throw in the emotional frailty of Paolo Giordano ...

wrap it up in the poetry of Italo Calvino ...

and you have this wonderful, thought-provoking little novella-- which compels you to read it in one sitting.
Nov 03, 2012 Jonfaith rated it really liked it
50 Thoughts on The Private Lives of Trees.
This will correspond or not with the experience of reading this stirring novel on a cool, sunny day in late Summer.
1)The novel likely takes place in our Chile.
2) I have never been to Chile. Or South America.
3)Miami is the farthest south I have ever ventured. The farthest East is Beograd, Serbia. North: Uppsala, Sweden. West : San Francisco.
4)While in Miami my wife and i saw her friend from Chile.
5) He's a travel minister for a coast city.
6) While Chile i
Nov 29, 2013 JK added it
Reading this while in state of melancholy induced by a feeling of complete disconnect from anyone and everyone around me perhaps wasn't the best idea.

I can understand the book and what Zambra was saying here, but I just couldn't feel it. This was the wrong time to read this, but fortunately books can be read more than once. This book will live with me and one day I will feel it.
Nov 09, 2015 Arzu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman
zambra'nın en çok, yakın bi' arkadaşı ile konuşurmuş gibi yazmasını sevdim sanırım..

eve dönmenin yolları kadar olmasa da, bu kitap da kısa ve çarpıcı..

biraz nefes almak, sakin sakin anlatan bi' arkadaşla vakit geçirmek isterseniz aklınızda olsun..
Apr 12, 2011 jess rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2011
I picked this up after I finished Bonsaï. Apparently I enjoy brief novellas from South America? This story takes place in one night (and also in a lifetime), when Julián is puttinghis step-daughter to bed. Her mother is late coming home. Julián is telling a bedtime story, The Private Life of Trees, and worrying about where her mother is. His mind moves into the past while we're waiting for Verónica, and we get a glimpse of his own history and the history of their marriage, and also an idea of th ...more
Sebastian Uribe
Mar 04, 2014 Sebastian Uribe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Genial. Un espaldarazo a la literatura de tramos cortos y efectiva. Sin desmesura y una tranquilidad que no desespera, Zambra nos brinda una historia que se va desembrollando poco a poco y se comporta por algunas páginas en un espejo del lector. No hay pierde con este autor. Leeré más.
Oct 07, 2014 Oscar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prestados, mainstream
Julián, el protagonista, espera durante toda la noche el regreso de Verónica, su mujer. Y, como no se cansa de repetir, el libro acabará con su regreso o hasta que Julián esté seguro de que no volverá. Será una larga noche, en la que Julián tendrá que cuidar de su hijastra Daniela, a la que le cuenta cuentos sobre la vida privada de los árboles. Una noche, también, llena de recuerdos sobre su relación anterior con Karla, que casi se convierte en su enemiga. Una noche en la que Julián, profesor d ...more
As a tree hugger-lover-admirer and considering the buzz around this novella I guess I can honestly say that I had high expectations of this book which could not be fullfilled at the end, obviously. I'm not a fan of present-tense-narration, and I guess that's one of the reasons the book didn't click with me. I love the story and the characters though.
Jul 30, 2015 Jale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Hikayenin kahramanları bir kavak ağacıyla bir baobap ağacı, geceleri kimse onları görmezken fotosentez hakkında, sincaplar hakkında ve insan, hayvan, ya da aptal beton parçaları olmaktansa ağaç olmanın getirdiği sayısız fayda" hakkında.
Ayrıca sonunun önemsiz olduğu bir bekleyişin hikayesi.
Eve Dönmenin Yolları kadar çarpıcı değilse bile, Zambra'nın iyi bir yazar olduğunu hafızamıza kazıyacak güzellikte.
Apr 15, 2011 Ferris rated it it was amazing
How can an author pack so much into a novella? That is the question I am left with after reading "The Private Lives of Trees". The author takes us through one long night suffered by Julian, a writer and stepfather, who is waiting for his wife to come home. I won't tell if she does or not, and frankly, it is almost irrelevant. The reader is allowed access to the stream of thoughts, feelings, imaginings, hopes, history, and fears of one man for one night. His ponderings are the stuff of being huma ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Alaíde rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mi favorito de Zambra hasta ahora.
Jan 17, 2016 melis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kitaplığım, 2016
Alan Chen
Novella, short, under 100 pages. Most of the book takes place in one night. Julian is waiting for his wife Veronica to come home and as it gets later and later his level of concerns increase and he recalls the events of their romance, what could of happened to her and how life will be without her. Daniela is Veronica's daughter from a previous marriage that only lasted 100 days. She's young, 6-ish, and while putting her to bed he tells her stories that he makes up about the private lives of (ant ...more
Chad Post
Jul 20, 2015 Chad Post rated it really liked it
DISCLAIMER: I am the publisher of the book and thus spent approximately two years reading and editing and working on it. So take my review with a grain of salt, or the understanding that I am deeply invested in this text and know it quite well. Also, I would really appreciate it if you would purchase this book, since it would benefit Open Letter directly.
Nov 02, 2015 Javier rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chile, ebooks, novela
Mientras leía pensaba si ponerle a este libro dos o tres estrellas, porque a veces es medio pajero (a pesar de lo corto que es), pero el final es muy bonito, así que opté por las tres. De todas formas me gusta mucho más el Zambra de "Mis documentos".
Apr 30, 2012 *Dragonfly* rated it liked it
Naglaseno stilizovane radnje, minimalisticke strukture, ovaj nevelik roman procitah u dahu.

Autor je savremeni cileanski pisac, pesnik, knjizevni kriticar, univerzitetski profesor Knjizevnosti.

Roman je pisan u prvom licu, kroz secanja i strepnje Hulijana koji ceka vehementnu, bujnu i senzualnu Veroniku, uspavljujuci njenu kcer bajkama o zivotu drveca.
Svedoci o samo jednoj noci.

Hulijan je profesor Knjizevnosti (ah, da li je to taj kruzni tok?) radnim danima.
Vikendom je pisac.
Grcevito se drzi za fi
Nicolás Rivas
Ésta novela corta logra, con su propio estilo, atrapar, conmover y preguntar. Eso ya es suficiente para catalogarla de excelente, y volverla una lectura recomendable. Mis tres estrellas (aún dudo por la cuarta) viene de un sentimiento de desilusión, como cuando por un imprevisto la fiesta se acaba antes del vino.

Mi lectura de "La vida privada de los árboles" fue borgeana. Es decir, típica. Aquí reconozco las mismas pasiones y obsesiones sobre la literatura, junto con la necesidad de expresar la
May 20, 2012 Owen rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated
This is a charming novella that at first doesn't seem to have much to it, but it sneaks up on you. Julián is a young professor and writer (apparently the same narrator as Zambra's earlier Bonsai); "The Private Life of Trees" is a story he tells his stepdaughter Daniela one evening as they wait for her mother Verónica to return. But she doesn't return; Daniela goes to sleep but Julián stays awake, thinking about his life, about Verónica's life, and in the end imagining Daniela's life in the futur ...more
World Literature Today
At just a few pages shy of a hundred, this little book, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, can be read in one sitting yet reexamined in a thousand. Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra (b. 1975) takes you on the journey of a single evening, fraught with anxiety as main character Julián passes the stretching time waiting for his wife, Verónica, to return home by reading his ritual, improvised stories (“The Private Lives of Trees”) to his stepdaughter, Daniela. Exposing the unfiltered conte ...more
May 07, 2013 Felippe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Longe de mim comparar o chileno Alejandro Zambra 1 a Juan Rulfo, mas é interessante constatar como o primeiro – um dos selecionados para a Granta Hispano-Americana – condensa tantas emoções, passagens e personagens numa história sucinta como a do escritor mexicano. Pedro Páramo, magnum opus de Rulfo, aglutina múltiplas vozes e histórias, todas centradas na figura principal que dá nome ao romance – em míseras 137 páginas. Um livro-exercício de autoedição, releitura e recorte, que deixaram o cláss ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Will rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
Alejandro Zambra is magical. Not "magical realism," but pure magic. His two books available in English (this one and the also-superb Bonsai) are short, engaging, absorbing reads; his books are tremendously quotable, full of insights and the kind of succinct brilliance that is increasingly rare, yet increasingly powerful. The types of books you read in an hour or two. The types of books that you revisit again, and again, and remember why you like reading in the first place. One of those reasons f ...more
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Literatura Chilena: Lectura conjunta: "La vida privada de los árboles" 3 30 Jan 03, 2013 11:20AM  
  • How I Became a Nun
  • The Museum of Eterna's Novel (The First Good Novel)
  • My Tender Matador
  • Senselessness
  • The Armies
  • Amulet
  • Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico
  • Poemas y antipoemas
  • The Cardboard House
  • Beauty Salon
  • El sur
  • Los ingrávidos
  • Three Trapped Tigers
  • Altazor, Or, a Voyage in a Parachute: Poem in VII Cantos (1919)
Zambra studied at the Instituto Nacional José Miguel Carrera, where he was president of the ALCIN (Academia de Letras Castellanas) and then at the University of Chile (BA in Hispanic Literature), a master in Hispanic Studies (CSIC, Spain) and a PhD in literature at the Universidad Católica. He is a professor of literature at the Universidad Diego Portales. He has collaborated with book critics and ...more
More about Alejandro Zambra...

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“Se ama para dejar de amar y se deja de amar para empezar a amar a otros, o para quedarse solos, por un rato o para siempre. Ese es el dogma. El único dogma.” 14 likes
“Pero quién no es, de vez en cuando, una mancha en la vida de alguien” 9 likes
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