Orphaned at age ten, Jayber Crow’s acquaintance with loneliness and want have made him a patient observer of the human animal, in both its goodness and frailty.
He began his search as a "pre-ministerial student" at Pigeonville College. There, freedom met with new burdens and a young man needed more than a mirror to find himself. But the beginning of that finding was a short conversation with "Old Grit," his profound professor of New Testament Greek.
"You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out—perhaps a little at a time."
"And how long is that going to take?"
"I don't know. As long as you live, perhaps."
"That could be a long time."
"I will tell you a further mystery," he said. "It may take longer."
Wendell Berry’s clear-sighted depiction of humanity’s gifts—love and loss, joy and despair—is seen though his intimate knowledge of the Port William Membership.
The story tells of the most searing moments of Old Jack’s life, particularly his debt to his sister Nancy and her husband Ben Feltner, Old Jack’s model of what an honorable manhood and strength might be.
"Few novelists treat both their characters and their readers with the kind of respect that Wendell Berry displays in this deeply moving account . . . The Memory of Old Jack is a slab of rich Americana." —The New York Times Book Review
"The rarest (and highest) of literary classes consist of that small group of authors who are absolutely inimitable . . . One of the half-dozen living American authors who belongs in this class is Wendell Berry." ―Los Angeles Times
"Berry is a philosopher, poet, novelist, and an essayist in the tradition of Emerson and Thoreau . . . like Thoreau, he marches to a different drummer, a drummer we would do well to be aware of, if not to march to." ―San Francisco Chronicle
From modern health care to the practice of forestry, from local focus to national resolve, Wendell Berry argues, there can never be a separation between global ecosystems and human communities—the two are intricately connected, and the health and survival of one depends upon the other.
Provocative, intimate, and thoughtful, Another Turn of the Crank reaches to the heart of Berry's concern and vision for the future, for America and for the world.
Wendell Berry is the author of over forty works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and has been awarded numerous literary prizes, including the T.S. Eliot Prize, a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for writing, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award, and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. While he began publishing work in the 1960s, Booklist has written that "Berry has become ever more prophetic," clearly standing up to the test of time.
Over the years, Wendell Berry has sought to understand and confront the financial structure of modern society and the impact of developing late capitalism on American culture. There is perhaps no more demanding or important critique available to contemporary citizens than Berry's writings — just as there is no vocabulary more given to obfuscation than that of economics as practiced by professionals and academics. Berry has called upon us to return to the basics. He has traced how the clarity of our economic approach has eroded over time, as the financial asylum was overtaken by the inmates, and citizens were turned from consumers — entertained and distracted — to victims, threatened by a future of despair and disillusion.
For this collection, Berry offers essays from the last twenty-five years, alongside new essays about the recent economic collapse, including “Money Versus Goods” and “Faustian Economics,” treatises of great alarm and courage. He offers advice and perspective as our society attempts to steer from its present chaos and recession to a future of hope and opportunity. With urgency and clarity, Berry asks us to look toward a true sustainable commonwealth, grounded in realistic Jeffersonian principles applied to our present day.
"The earth is the genius of our life,” Wendell Berry writes here. “The final questions and their answers lie serenely coupled in it."
"Berry has produced one of the most humane, honest, liberating works of our time. It is a beautiful book. More than that, it has become at one stroke an essential book. Every American who can read at all should read it." ―The Village Voice
With the expected grace of Wendell Berry comes The Hidden Wound, an essay about racism and the damage it has done to the identity of our country. Through Berry's personal experience, he explains how remaining passive in the face of the struggle of racism further corrodes America's potential. In a quiet and observant manner, Berry opens up about how his attempt to discuss racism is rooted in the hope that someday the historical wound will begin to heal.
For more than fifty years, Wendell Berry has been telling us stories about Port William, a mythical town on the banks of the Kentucky River, populated over the years by a cast of unforgettable characters living in a single place over a long time. In A Place in Time, the stories dates range from 1864, when Rebecca Dawe finds herself in her own reflection at the end of the Civil War, to one from 1991 when Grover Gibbs' widow, Beulah, attends the auction as her home place is offered for sale.
"And so it's all gone. A new time has come. Various ones of the old time keep faith and stop by to see me, Coulter and Wilma and a few others. But the one I wait to see is Althie. Seems like my whole life now is lived under the feeling of her hand touching me that day of the sale, and every day still.
I lie awake in the night, and I can see it all in my mind, the old place, the house, all the things I took care of so long. I thought I might miss it, but I don't. The time has gone when I could do more than worry about it, and I declare it's a load off my mind. But the thoughts, still, are a kind of company."
— Beulah Gibbs
This beautiful short novel is a perfect introduction to Wendell Berry’s rich and ever-evolving saga of the Port William Membership.
The planet's environmental problems respect no national boundaries. From soil erosion and population displacement to climate change and failed energy policies, American governing classes are paid by corporations to pretend that debate is the only democratic necessity and that solutions are capable of withstanding endless delay. Late Capitalism goes about its business of finishing off the planet. And we citizens are left with a shell of what was once proudly described as The American Dream.
In this collection of eleven essays, Berry confronts head-on the necessity of clear thinking and direct action. Never one to ignore the present challenge, he understands that only clearly stated questions support the understanding their answers require. For more than fifty years we've had no better spokesman and no more eloquent advocate for the planet, for our families, and for the future of our children and ourselves.
"These powerful, challenging essays show why Berry's vision of a sustainable, human-scaled society has proven so influential." ―Publishers Weekly
No one writes like Wendell Berry. Whether essay, novel, story, or poem, his inimitable voice rings true, as natural as the land he has farmed in Kentucky for over 40 years.
Following the widely praised Given, this new collection offers a masterful blend of epigrams, elegies, lyrics, and letters, with the occasional short love poem. Alternately amused, outraged, and resigned, Berry's welcome voice is the constant in this varied mix. The book concludes with a new sequence of Sabbath poems, works that have spawned from Berry's Sunday morning walks of meditation and observation.
Berry's themes are reflections of his life: friends, family, the farm, the nature around us as well as within. He speaks strongly for himself and sometimes for the lost heart of the country. As he has borne witness to the world for eight decades, what he offers us now in this collection of poems is of incomparable value.
When young Nathan loses his grandfather, Berry guides readers through the process of Nathan's grief, endearing the reader to the simple humanity through which Nathan views the world. Echoing Berry's own strongly held beliefs, Nathan tells us that his grandfather's life "couldn't be divided from the days he'd spent at work in his fields." Berry has long been compared to Faulkner for his ability to erect entire communities in his fiction, and his heart and soul have always lived in Port William, Kentucky. In this eloquent novel about duty, community, and a sweeping love of the land, Berry gives readers a classic book that takes them to that storied place.
The title of this book is taken from an account by Thomas F. Hornbein on his travels in the Himalayas. "It seemed to me," Horenbein wrote, "that here man lived in continuous harmony with the land, as much as briefly a part of it as all its other occupants." Wendell Berry's second collection of essays, A Continuous Harmony was first published in 1972, and includes the seminal "Think Little," which was printed in The Last Whole Earth Catalogue and reprinted around the globe, and the splendid centerpiece, "Discipline and Hope," an insightful and articulate essay making a case for what he calls "a new middle."
Berry's work is one of devotion to family and community, to the earth and her creatures, to the memories of the past, and the hope of the future. His writing stands alongside the work of William Carlos Williams and Robert Frost as a rigorous American testament.
As Andy's perspective filters through his anger over his loss and the harsh city of San Francisco surrounding him, he begins to remember: the people and places that wait 2,000 miles away in his Kentucky home, the comfort he knew as a farmer, and his symbiotic relationship to the soil. Andy laments the modern shift away from the love of the land, even as he begins to accept his own changed relationship to the world. Wendell Berry's continued fascination with the power of memory continues in this treasured novel set in 1976.
"In Distant Neighbors, both Berry and Snyder come across as honest and open-hearted explorers. There is an overall sense that they possess a deep and questing wisdom, hard earned through land work, travel, writing, and spiritual exploration. There is no rushing, no hectoring, and no grand gestures between these two, just an ever-deepening inquiry into what makes a good life and how to live it, even in the depths of the machine age." —Orion Magazine
In 1969 Gary Snyder returned from a long residence in Japan to northern California, to a homestead in the Sierra foothills where he intended to build a house and settle on the land with his wife and young sons. He had just published his first book of essays, Earth House Hold. A few years before, after a long absence, Wendell Berry left New York City to return to land near his grandfather's farm in Port Royal, Kentucky, where he built a small studio and lived there with his wife as they restored an old house on their newly acquired homestead. In 1969 Berry had just published Long-Legged House. These two founding members of the counterculture and of the new environmental movement had yet to meet, but they knew each other's work, and soon they began a correspondence. Neither man could have imagined the impact their work would have on American political and literary culture, nor could they have appreciated the impact they would have on one another.
Snyder had thrown over all vestiges of Christianity in favor of becoming a devoted Buddhist and Zen practitioner, and had lived in Japan for a prolonged period to develop this practice. Berry's discomfort with the Christianity of his native land caused him to become something of a renegade Christian, troubled by the church and organized religion, but grounded in its vocabulary and its narrative. Religion and spirituality seemed like a natural topic for the two men to discuss, and discuss they did. They exchanged more than 240 letters from 1973 to 2013, remarkable letters of insight and argument. The two bring out the best in each other, as they grapple with issues of faith and reason, discuss ideas of home and family, worry over the disintegration of community and commonwealth, and share the details of the lives they've chosen to live with their wives and children. Contemporary American culture is the landscape they reside on. Environmentalism, sustainability, global politics and American involvement, literature, poetry and progressive ideals, these two public intellectuals address issues as broad as are found in any exchange in literature.
No one can be unaffected by the complexity of their relationship, the subtlety of their arguments, and the grace of their friendship. This is a book for the ages.
"Berry says that these recent essays mostly say again what he has said before. His faithful readers may think he hasn't, however, said any of it better before." ―Booklist (starred review)
"His refusal to abandon the local for the global, to sacrifice neighborliness, community integrity, and economic diversity for access to Wal-Mart, has never seemed more appealing, nor his questions of personal accountability more powerful." ―Kirkus Reviews
There are those in America today who seem to feel we must audition for our citizenship, with "patriot" offered as the badge for those found narrowly worthy. Let this book stand as Wendell Berry's application, for he is one of those faithful, devoted critics envisioned by the Founding Fathers to be the life's blood and very future of the nation they imagined. Citizenship Papers collects nineteen new essays, from celebrations of exemplary lives to critiques of American life, including "A Citizen's Response [to the new National Security Strategy]"—a ringing call of caution to a nation standing on the brink of global catastrophe.
"This skillfully conceived book is one of the strongest contemporary arguments for literary tradition: a challenging credo, un-glib, calmly assured, clearly illuminating—and required reading for those seriously interested in the interplay between literature, ethics, and morality." —Kirkus Reviews
Each of the thirty-five poems in this collection is concerned with this metaphor. The long sequence that is itself entitled "The Country of Marriage," perhaps the finest single work in the book, is a grave, moving, and beautifully wrought love poem. But the shorter lyrics have an equal grace and beauty—writing that contains the exhilarating lucidity of mountain spring water. And there are most notably, several more poems about the "Mad Farmer," who advises us here to 'every day do something that won't compute.'
Berry has here perfected a work that is immediately accessible but that becomes, as we read it again, always more satisfying, reverberant with manifold meanings.
"Berry's superb study reminds us that Williams remains our contemporary not only for the lively cadences and fresh imagery that animate his poems, but for the ethical imperative of his example: to know ourselves as creatures of a particular place and, through that grounded knowledge, to develop the arts that will enable us to live in it over the long haul." —The Sewanee Review
Acclaimed essayist and poet Wendell Berry was born and has always lived in a "provincial" part of the country without an established literary culture. In an effort to adapt his poetry to his place of Henry County, Kentucky, Berry discovered an enduringly useful example in the work of William Carlos Williams. In Williams' commitment to his place of Rutherford, New Jersey, Berry found an inspiration that inevitably influenced the direction of his own writing.
Both men would go on to establish themselves as respected American poets, and here Berry sets forth his understanding of that evolution for Williams, who in the course of his local membership and service, became a poet indispensable to us all.
“[Berry’s poems] shine with a gentle wisdom of a craftsman who has thought deeply about the paradoxical strangeness and wonder of life.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Wendell Berry is one of those rare individuals who speaks to us always of responsibility, of the individual cultivation of an active and aware participation in the arts of life, be they those of composing a poem, preparing a hill for planting, raising a family, working for the good of oneself and one’s neighbors, loving.” —The Bloomsbury Review
More than thirty-five years ago, Wendell Berry began spending his sabbaths outdoors, when the weather allowed, walking and wandering around familiar territory, seeking a deep intimacy only time could provide. These walks sometimes yielded poems. Each year since, he has completed a series of these poems dated by the year of its composition.
This new sequence provides a virtual syllabus for all of Berry's cultural and agricultural work in concentrated form. Many of these poems, including a sequence at mid-year of 2014, were written on a small porch in the woods, a place of stillness and reflection, a vantage point "of the one / life of the forest composed / of uncountable lives in countless / years, each life coherent itself within / the coherence, the great composure, of all."
Recently Berry has been reflecting on more than a half century of reading, to discover and to delight in the poetical, spiritual, and cultural roots of his work. In The Presence of Nature in the Natural World, Berry's survey begins with Alan of Lille's twelfth-century work, The Plaint of Nature. From the Bible through Chaucer, from Milton to Pope, from Wordsworth to the moderns, Berry's close reading is exhilarating. Moving from the canon of poetry to the sayings and texts found in agricultutre and science, closely presented, we gain new appreciation for the complexity of the issues faced in the twenty-first century by the struggling community of humans on earth.
With this long essay appended to these new Sabbath Poems, the result is an unusual book of depth and engagement. A new collection of Wendall Berry poems is always an occasion for celebration, and this eccentric gatheirng is especially so.
Sadly, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are people working “to make something comely and enduring of our life on this earth.” Wendell Berry is one of those people, writing and working, as ever, with passion, eloquence, and conviction.
The Art of the Commonplace gathers twenty essays by Wendell Berry that offer an agrarian alternative to our dominant urban culture. Grouped around five themes—an agrarian critique of culture, agrarian fundamentals, agrarian economics, agrarian religion, and geobiography—these essays promote a clearly defined and compelling vision important to all people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, disease, and destructiveness of contemporary American culture.
Why is agriculture becoming culturally irrelevant, and at what cost? What are the forces of social disintegration and how might they be reversed? How might men and women live together in ways that benefit both? And, how does the corporate takeover of social institutions and economic practices contribute to the destruction of human and natural environments?
Through his staunch support of local economies, his defense of farming communities, and his call for family integrity, Berry emerges as the champion of responsibilities and priorities that serve the health, vitality and happiness of the whole community of creation.
But Rawbone’s plan spins against him, and he soon finds himself at the Mexican-American border and in the hands of the Bureau of Investigation. He is offered a chance for immunity, but only if he agrees to proceed with his scheme to deliver the truck and its goods to the Mexican oil fields while under the command of Agent John Lourdes. Rawbone sees no other option and agrees to the deal—but he fails to recognize the true identity of Agent Lourdes, a man from deep within his past.
As they work to expose the criminal network at the core of the revolution, it is clear their journey into the tarred desert is a push toward a certain ruin, and the history lurking between the criminal and agent may seal their fates.
Salatin, hailed by the New York Times as "Virginia's most multifaceted agrarian since Thomas Jefferson [and] the high priest of the pasture" and profiled in the Academy Award nominated documentary Food, Inc. and the bestselling book The Omnivore's Dilemma, understands what food should be: Wholesome, seasonal, raised naturally, procured locally, prepared lovingly, and eaten with a profound reverence for the circle of life. And his message doesn't stop there. From child-rearing, to creating quality family time, to respecting the environment, Salatin writes with a wicked sense of humor and true storyteller's knack for the revealing anecdote.
Salatin's crucial message and distinctive voice--practical, provocative, scientific, and down-home philosophical in equal measure--make FOLKS, THIS AIN'T NORMAL a must-read book.
Winner of the James Beard Award
Author of #1 New York Times Bestsellers In Defense of Food and Food Rules
What should we have for dinner? Ten years ago, Michael Pollan confronted us with this seemingly simple question and, with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, his brilliant and eye-opening exploration of our food choices, demonstrated that how we answer it today may determine not only our health but our survival as a species. In the years since, Pollan’s revolutionary examination has changed the way Americans think about food. Bringing wide attention to the little-known but vitally important dimensions of food and agriculture in America, Pollan launched a national conversation about what we eat and the profound consequences that even the simplest everyday food choices have on both ourselves and the natural world. Ten years later, The Omnivore’s Dilemma continues to transform the way Americans think about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Food. There's plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it?
Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion--most of what we’re consuming today is longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we see to become. With In Defense of Food, Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.
"Michael Pollan [is the] designated repository for the nation's food conscience."
-Frank Bruni, The New York Times
" A remarkable volume . . . engrossing . . . [Pollan] offers those prescriptions Americans so desperately crave."
-The Washington Post
"A tough, witty, cogent rebuttal to the proposition that food can be redced to its nutritional components without the loss of something essential... [a] lively, invaluable book."
--Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"In Defense of Food is written with Pollan's customary bite, ringing clarity and brilliance at connecting the dots."
-The Seattle Times
Michael Pollan’s most recent book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation--the story of our most trusted food expert’s culinary education--was published by Penguin Press in April 2013, and in 2016 it serves as the inspiration for a four-part docuseries on Netflix by the same name.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
“Schlosser has a flair for dazzling scene-setting and an arsenal of startling facts . . . Fast Food Nation points the way but, to resurrect an old fast food slogan, the choice is yours.”—Los Angeles Times
In 2001, Fast Food Nation was published to critical acclaim and became an international bestseller. Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, widened the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and transformed food production throughout the world. The book changed the way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch today’s food movement.
In a new afterword for this edition, Schlosser discusses the growing interest in local and organic food, the continued exploitation of poor workers by the food industry, and the need to ensure that every American has access to good, healthy, affordable food. Fast Food Nation is as relevant today as it was a decade ago. The book inspires readers to look beneath the surface of our food system, consider its impact on society and, most of all, think for themselves.
“As disturbing as it is irresistible . . . Exhaustively researched, frighteningly convincing . . . channeling the spirits of Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Schlosser shows how the fast food industry conquered both appetite and landscape.”—The New Yorker
Eric Schlosser is a contributing editor for the Atlantic and the author of Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness, and Chew on This (with Charles Wilson).