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    Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter

    October 18, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    This is the second Wendell Berry novel I’ve read, and I’m liking it as much as the first. I love the feel of Berry’s work. I have this sense that I’m sitting at the dying bedside of a really old person, and I’m getting this chance to wander in their memories and see the whole of their life for a brief moment before they leave this world. Berry has an undeniable respect for the aged. Couple this for his respect for the land and the family farm and you find that his work truly stands out among today’s living writers.

    Berry is so down-to-earth, and I think it’s because of his bio on the back of his books. It doesn’t say that he has both a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky, though he does. It doesn’t tell of his Guggenheim Fellowship in France or that he taught at New York University and also his alma mater, the University of Kentucky. He has many accomplishments that qualify him as a writer, and yet his bio simply states:

    Wendell Berry, author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and essays, has farmed a hillside in his native Kentucky for forty years.

    Perhaps Berry’s novels are believable because he has lived, and is living, the life his tales capture.

    Hannah Coulter is a beautiful story. In the coming days {perhaps weeks?}) I’ll be sharing some of the more profound excerpts, the parts that made me think. However, I would highly suggest it if you are looking for a new book to add to your list. My quotes won’t ruin the storyline for you, not much anyhow, and my reviews usually focus on the ideas within the story rather than the story itself. The story is beautifully woven and tells of when Time Past began to become Time Present. Just as in Jayber Crow, the reader gets a chance to watch the Post World War II transition, where the family farm becomes obsolete and an old culture is lost.

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  • Reply Kansas Mom October 19, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Kansas Dad is a big Wendell Berry fan. I haven’t read any of his novels yet myself. Perhaps I’ll have to add this one to the library list.

  • Reply Rahime October 18, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Looking forward to it. I’ll have to add it to my paperbackswap list.

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