Monday, December 3, 2018

My Favorite Book, Part 17


You’ll have to excuse me. I am not going to tell you about one of my favorite books this time. Instead, it’s an entire library of good reading from one of the finest writers of our (or any) time.
Wendell Berry loves the land. For years, he farmed the old-fashioned way in Kentucky, with horses and hand tools and husbandry that is about as far removed from modern “agribusiness” as you can get. He’s an outstanding poet, but we’ll leave that for another time. He writes some of the most incisive essays and social commentary you’ll ever read, but we’ll leave that for another time, as well.
His novels and stories of what he calls the “Port William Membership” are more than worth reading. Every one of them, and there are at least a dozen of them (I don’t have an exact count, because some of the novels stand alone but are also included in short novel collections), is worth reading.
Port William is a fictional small town in Kentucky, surrounded by land farmed through generations by the Catletts, Coulters, Penns, Feltners, and others. They are deceptively deep, touching, realistic stories of people and land, loves and friendships, work and play. Sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous, and always beautiful, Berry’s stories can make you wonder why we let the world change the way it has.
Read Wendell Berry. He writes every word of every book with pencil and paper—handcrafted prose in every sense of the word.