HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Private Lives of Trees

by Alejandro Zambra

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2121092,688 (3.54)13
he story of a single night: a young professor of literature named Julin is reading to his step-daughter Daniela and nervously waiting for his wife Vernica to return from her art class. Each night, Julin 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 tending to his bonsai, but something about this night is different. As Julin becomes increasing concerned that Vernica won't return, he reflects on their life together in minute detail, and imagines what Daniela-at 20, at 25 will think.… (more)

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 13 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This short novella is only the second I've ever read by a Chilean author. The first was Nancy by Bruno Lloret, translated by Ellen Jones and published here in Australia by Giramondo as part of their innovative Southern Latitudes series. The Private Lives of Trees is likewise published by a university publishing house, the University of Rochester in the US. It is, as they say at their website, one of only a handful of publishing houses dedicated to increasing access to world literature for English readers— though I do think the situation has improved greatly in recent years since book buyers are no longer limited to what's in stock at a bricks-and-mortar store with a range limited to what a bookseller thinks might sell. Today readers interested in translations unite across the world to order online, sometimes direct from the publisher, as I did with this book which was purchased as part of the First 25 promotion at Open Letter Books (50% off the first 25 books that they published).

The Private Lives of Trees is a book that needs to be read in one sitting, which is easy because it's only 98 pages long. It's the story of a young professor of literature named Julián who has the care of his step-daughter Daniela while his wife goes to art class. Julián is in the habit of telling Daniela an ongoing bedtime story about two trees, and in his spare time on Sundays he's working on a novel about a man who takes up bonsai. But the night on which this story takes place, things are different.

Verónica is late home.

We've all been there. Whether the one who is a late is a husband, a lover, a parent, a friend or a child, it's stressful and it gets worse as the time goes by. By turns anxious and dismissive about the late return, conjecturing about possible reasons benign and otherwise, catastrophising, and then castigating ourselves for being melodramatic, we vacillate from one emotional state to another, and nothing is resolved until either the loved one comes home... or doesn't.

While he waits, Julián tells Daniela her story...
Right now, sheltered by the solitude of the park, the trees are commenting on the bad luck of an oak—two people have carved their names, as a symbol of their friendship, into its bark. 'No one has the right to give you a tattoo without your consent,' says the poplar; the baobab is even more emphatic: 'The oak has been the victim of a deplorable act of vandalism. Those people deserve to be punished. I will not rest until they receive the punishment they deserve. I will traverse earth, sky, and sea in their pursuit.'

The little girl laughs hard, without the least sign of sleepiness. And she urgently, anxiously, asks the inevitable three questions, never just one, always at least two or three: 'What's vandalism, Julián? Can you bring me a glass of lemonade, with three spoonfuls of sugar? Did you and my mother ever carve your names into a tree, as a symbol of your friendship?' (pp. 16-17)
I love this. It reminds me of the daft sagas I was told as a child, and which in turn I told to my own child when he was small, and to my junior classes when we had five minutes to spare. Like Julián, I sometimes lost the thread of an ongoing story and would be taken to task for it, and like him I had to improvise hastily to patch over the error.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2020/09/14/the-private-lives-of-trees-by-alejandro-zamb... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Sep 14, 2020 |
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 is famous for earthquakes, there are none depicted in this novel.
7) I experienced an earthquake a few years ago.
8) It was here in Indiana.
9) the novel is rather universal.
10) it weaves the possibilities in life with the layers of narrative.
11)Neither have much in terms of resolution.
12) Biological death is a certainty.
13)There are a number of references to authors in the book.
14) Aside from Jeanette Winterson and Borges, Paul Auster occupies a prominent space.
15) Paul Auster is very popular in Europe.
16) I've found his books on many people shelves across that continent.
17) I don't really like Paul Auster.
18) There was glib parody of his fiction in The New Yorker.
19) Baking and gardening feature in The Private Lives of Trees.
20) The baking is unsuccessful
21) I hope that isn't a spoiler.
22) Sometimes spoilers can't be helped
23)when my friends and I were reading platform, someone leaked the Bali type massacre at the end.
24) That was sad.
25)I mean the actual event (Bali), the fictional episode and the idea that I knew how the novel would end.
26) I have never been to Bali.
27) I may have covered that in thought #3.
28)The philosophy of the daughter in the book is interesting.
29) It reminds me of that pop song Closing Time.
30) One could also find some Heraclitus within such rumination.
31)There is a scene of vandalism in the novel.
32)Something similar has happened in my family.
33) I was going to type that I didn't understand.
34)That isn't true; I do understand.
35)That makes me sad.
36)Cristiano Ronaldo says that he is sad.
37)He's rich, handsome and one of the 3 best footballers in the world.
38)Football (soccer) does feature in the novel.
39)I regard Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the 3 best players on the planet.
40)Two of the main characters in the novel drink coffee.
41)Though not at the same time.
42)I drink coffee.
43)Essentially espresso, usually 5-8 shots a day.
44)I like to order espresso abroad: its easy for my stumbling tongue.
45)When I travel here I order in bulk: 6-8 shots at a time.
46)Procrastination and hobbies both figure centrally to the narrative here.
47) As does editing, pruning away stories.
48)This also features in the gardening depicted above.
49)I hadn't thought of Candide until just now: hmm
50)I originally titled this 100 Thoughts but became distracted by Voltaire. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
A beautiful andintrospective novella. ( )
  BALE | Jan 13, 2015 |
This book was alright, it's wasn't particularly interesting or moving thought I felt like it should have been. I would definitely give Zambra another shot to WOW me. I think I am going to seek out more of these Open Letter Books.

And yes Kerry, there is something about bridges in this book. ( )
  dtn620 | Sep 22, 2013 |
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 future and how she might in turn remember Julián from when she was a little girl. That's it, but in those seemingly inconsequential night thoughts we get a catalog of the forms of love, particularly those forms that are intertwined with stories. Julián becomes a silent Scheherazade, telling himself stories to forestall knowledge of whatever misfortune might be keeping Verónica from coming home.

The accents on the characters' names are one of the few signs that this book comes from another language, and I think they're unnecessary; it could happen anywhere. Megan McDowell's translation reads naturally in English, with a tone just right for Julián's character. He doesn't want to imagine the worst; the best he imagines is so modest it might seem sad. But, for Daniela's sake, he refuses to be sad—and that's the strongest form his love can take. ( )
  localcharacter | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Julián lulls the little girl to sleep with "The Private Lives of Trees," an ongoing story he's made up to tell her at bedtime.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

he story of a single night: a young professor of literature named Julin is reading to his step-daughter Daniela and nervously waiting for his wife Vernica to return from her art class. Each night, Julin 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 tending to his bonsai, but something about this night is different. As Julin becomes increasing concerned that Vernica won't return, he reflects on their life together in minute detail, and imagines what Daniela-at 20, at 25 will think.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.54)
0.5
1 1
1.5 1
2 4
2.5 2
3 14
3.5 6
4 18
4.5 2
5 7

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 150,740,213 books! | Top bar: Always visible