V's Reviews > The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring
The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring
by Richard Preston
by Richard Preston
Not sure if I can finish this book. While I am interested in the exploration and discovery aspects of the book, the rest of it is about people's personal lives, which are as petty and mundane- and uninteresting- as anyone's. The book is largely about Steve Sillett, who was a baby prof in the biology dept. when I was a bio undergrad at HSU... he was, from all I heard and saw, obnoxiously cocky and not at all respectful to his students... kind of a dick. In truth, I feel a little sordid and voyeuristic reading about the personal life of a guy I know of in real life; it was a little icky to read about how he shaved his head and eyebrows and remember seeing him in the corridor from time to time, all strangely hairless. Actually, the mere existence of this book reaffirms my initial impression from years ago- it takes a guy with a huge ego to permit someone to write a book about him, especially while he is still such a young man. I think the problem with this book is that Preston does not employ the usual literary device of making a book like this about a single quest, with all the exploration feeding into this one huge holy grail of a goal. Instead, he tells a more diffuse story that probably reflects reality a lot more accurately, with an effort here and an expedition there, unified by a general theme (these people like climbing and studying big trees of all species- tall trees, wide trees, massive trees, weird-looking trees). This is not so much a tunnel-visiony we-must-find-the-tallest-biggest-redwood-in-the-universe sort of story, although, of course, there are chunks of that sort of thing, too. This may be why he had to heavily rely on the private lives of his subjects to move the discovery story forward; the discovery story doesn't move itself forward very well.
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