The Trees by Percival Everett,  13th Oct 23

the Trees book group
Peggy R. presented the novel;  9 people attended the meeting.
Opinions of the book varied from dislike through to thinking it was a brilliantly written work of art. Some felt that, although quite a short book, it went on too long, as we began to develop a certain imperviousness to the horror. Were all the multiple gory details necessary? Some of the most interesting and attractive characters are, nevertheless, involved in three murders (and by extension several dozen). Should books have to take a moral stance with the bad guys as unattractive, and receiving punishment?
There was a brief discussion on whether or not it was satire and if not, what would the humour be considered.  Some people were uncomfortable with the stereotypical racist conversations of the whites. On the question of stereotyping, every black character seemed to have a college degree, while every white character was uneducated and furthermore, fat. Does that add to or detract from the force of the satire, which takes its rather satisfying and amusing revenge on racist white society?
The discussion quickly progressed from the book itself to the issues it evoked and the peripheral themes such as racism vs. elitism and satire vs. stereotyping. It moved on to discussion of premeditated murder, comparisons between lynching and the George Floyd saga, centralised government vs. States' rights, the Civil War, the Thirteen Original Colonies.... Asian Indians in Toronto vs. Asian Indians in Ottawa. Was it useful or not that he brought in lynchings of other groups (Asians and possibly American Indians) that also certainly deserve mention, but did it water down the Black-American story?
Some thought the dialogue made it more suitable material for a TV series.  Was the undefined ending of any literary significance? Most people thought the book was worth reading.