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Book review: How I Became A Tree by Sumana Roy

So enjoyed what I term the Matryoshka Tree book, Sumana Roy`s HOW I BECAME A TREE  (Aleph Books). The book, which focuses on tree-love, aims for that intersection between the spot a tree stands in and the spot a human stands in, and reveals the Matryoshka effect as it segues from tree story to tree story.

The question is asked: is the person who goes inside a forest the same as the one coming out of it?
The reflection is shared: being under a tree is a holiday from reason—-who has seen a bureaucrat clearing files under a tree, after all? The shunning of ambition, time without structure, a carriage without rivals or enemies, not to mention the barter economy of oxygen and carbon dioxide that keeps animals alive —all these are gifts from life under a tree.

 

From Stephen Taylor`s Oak.

As an overt tree-lover, my personal resonance spot was where Roy tells us of Stephen Taylor who, grieving the deaths of his parents and a close friend, went to a 25-year-old oak tree and painted it fifty times over from different angles, resulting in the book `Oak: One tree, Three years, Fifty paintings.`
Why did he paint the same tree for three years? Taylor`s answer is telling: “You lose your sense of identity when you lose friends and family, and I suddenly didn’t know who I was. I walked into this field one day and just sat down and started to paint. I painted the tree from every angle, in oils and watercolours, I drew it and photographed it.

At the time I didn’t know why I was doing it, but looking back now I think I was trying to feel at home. I had lost everything that anchored me…the oak has a feeling of permanence. …I think by taking this one little area of England and feeding off it spiritually, I found some redemption. “

Links to articles on related subjects:

Book review: Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively

a tree bookAleph Booksbook reviewHow I became A Treeoak tree paintingsStephen TaylorSumana Roytree storiestree-love

Sheila Kumar • May 28, 2020


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