As in thought he passes backward into time, the country becomes quieter, and it seems to grow larger. The sounds of engines become less frequent and farther apart until they cease altogether.
This is the country of his own life and history, fragmentary as they necessarily have been.
On a clear Kentucky night in 1888, a young woman risks her life to save a stranger from a drunken mob. Almost a hundred years later, her great-grandson Andy climbs a hill at the edge of town, and is flooded with memories of all he has lived, seen and heard of the past century-- of farmers wooing schoolteachers, soldiers trudging home from war; of the first motor car, the Great Depression, and Vietnam; of hunting, good whisky, and benign kidnappings; of neighbourly feuds and family secrets; of grief and betrayal-and of forgiveness, devotion and great friendship that endures for generations.
These are Wendell Berry's tales of Port William, a little farming community nestled deep in the Kentucky River valley. They unravel the story of a town over the course of four generations, lovingly chronicling the intertwined lives of the families who call it home.
Affectionate, elegiac and wry, these uplifting rural fables invite us to witness the beauty and quiet heroism at the heart of each ordinary, interconnected life.
A farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts,' Wendell Berry is the author of more than fifty books of poetry, fiction, and essays. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and Rockefeller foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts, and also the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement, and the National Humanities Medal.
He has won the O'Henry Prize Story four times in the past fifteen years, and was awarded Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature in 2016. His stories frequently appear in the Atlantic, the Threepenny Review, the Sewanee Review, the Hudson Review and Orion, and have been praised for their 'exquisitely constructed sentences,' 'taut phrases' and 'quiet beauty' (The New York Times); their 'graceful, poignant and compassionate' writing (Publishers Weekly).
For more than forty years, he has lived and farmed in his native Henry Country, Kentucky, with his wife, Tanya, and their children and grandchildren.
The stories tell of family and community, the role of history, and of collective memory and shared bonds in preserving continuity. Berry writes with great wisdom and deceptive simplicity; the result is a profound rumination on rural life, memory and community, enchantingly rendered and gently humorous. Country & Town House I've never read a clearer, more elegant expression of the experience of consciousness - the texture of thought and emotion and the simple wonder and trial of being alive Nicola Davies, author of A First Book of Nature This bewitching book, a collage amounting almost to a novel, formed of 18 short stories linked to each other by people and place, nourishes deep-seated memories of the old country ways...Berry writes with such wisdom and understanding of the Kentucky countryside and its people that it scarcely seems like fiction. These are stories about the importance of memory and history in the life of a community...they celebrate the visceral links between man and Nature...acutely observed and beautifully wrought...gently humorous, full of eccentricity, sometimes wistful and occasionally sad, but unfailingly enjoyable, rewarding, even joyful. Country Life Quite simply, Wendell Berry is one of the greatest writers of our times. Somehow he manages to spin out a universe from the most intricate dust. His work is a marvel of feeling and thought. The stories express a biblical reverence for life and community, yet they're funny, too, and so beautiful Booklist The local nature of their canny, comic tonalities [...] might lead browsers to take these Berry stories as merely quaint. That would be a mistake. In fact, like Isaac Bashevis Singer, Berry has been expanding by contraction, husbanding by close focus - in Berry's case, on the familiar demesne of Port William, Ky... A masterpiece...Berry moves way beyond nostalgia toward an immersion in other lives that expresses itself as a sense of intimate apartness; a willingness to follow his characters, but not necessarily to change them. Poetry nestled inside prose: startlingly and classically moving Kirkus Reviews [Berry's] essays, poetry and fiction have fertilized a crop of great solace in my life, and helped to breed a healthy flock of good manners, to boot. As I travel this unlikely road of opportunity, as a woodworker and writer, sure, but most often as a jackass, I have his writings upon which to fix my mind and my heart, to keep my life's errant wagon between the ditches, as it were. Mr. Berry's sentences and stories deliver a great payload of edifying entertainment, which I hungrily consume, but it is the bass note of morality thumping through his musical phrases that guides me with the most constant of hands upon my plow. -- Nick Offerman, New York Times bestselling author of Paddle Your Own Canoe Wendell Berry gives us an intimate portrayal of the mind and heart of rural America. His graceful prose is truthful and eloquent. His tone is reliable and steady, like a good rain, sober and serious-all this and at times he is so funny you have to stop and roll on the floor -- Bobbie Ann Mason This is the most complete-and the most powerful-vision of any American writer in my time. The stories of the Port William Membership are a delight, a goad, and a testament less to what was than to what could be. They will leave no reader unmoved and unchanged -- Bill McKibben Wendell Berry writes with a good husbandman's care and economy . . . His stories are filled with gentle humor New York Times Book Review Berry's writing is graceful, poignant and compassionate, and his feel for the inner lives of his quirky rural characters makes for many memorable portraits. A valuable work of literature and historical set piece, this collection vividly captures the fabric of a kind of all-American life Publishers Weekly Berry is an American treasure; this collection belongs in all literary fiction collections Library Journal No writer has written of a place better or more completely than Wendell Berry has written of Port William Arkansas Democrat Gazette What unites [these stories] is a deep humanity, compassion and a sense of recognition that our modern lives unfolded at some point on Earth from stories such as these Seattle Times Berry is the master of earthy country living seen through the eyes of laconic farmers.... He makes his stories shine with meaning and warmth Christian Science Monitor A small treasure . . . part of a long line that descends from Chaucer to Katherine Mansfield to William Trevor. Chicago Tribune Intricate and beautiful, sad but strong Washington Post Berry richly evokes Port William's farmlands and hamlets, and his characters are fiercely individual, yet mutually protective in everything they do. . . . His sentences are exquisitely constructed, suggesting the cyclic rhythms of his agrarian world New York Times Praise for Wendell Berry: One of America's finest prose writers Publishers Weekly What a wise and inspiring collection this is, although 'collection' hardly does it justice, it sounds far too piecemeal and ephemeral for a book with such a meditative and singular focus. It's so full of life, expanding the horizon as you read, revealing a wider and a deeper way of looking at the quotidian. Like Denis Johnson, Marilynne Robinson, or Seamus Heaney, Wendell Berry shows us that sometimes looking deeply into one world can become a profound way of looking at the whole world. -- Barney Norris, author of FIVE RIVERS MET ON A WOODED PLAIN A woven time-travelling book, about all that it is to be human, about love, land, life. Just beautiful. What an amazing writer he is. Short stories that link together like trees in a forest -- Jackie Morris, co-author of THE LOST WORDS
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