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The Nostalgic Fiction of Wendell Berry

Wendell Erdman Berry (born August 5, 1934) is a man of many talents including poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, novelist, and farmer. He is a very prolific writer with an impressive collection of poems, essays, short stories and novels. He has won countless literary awards from 1958 to present.

I am more familiar with Wendell Berry’s novels and short stories that chronical agrarian, rural life centered around the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. There is continuous connection of characters in the whole collection of stories, either by farming families or close -knit communities tied together by need, grace and emotional histories.

I never tire of Berry’s descriptions of times long past and the hard work that went into building relationships as well as small farms and communities. His novels evoke such imagery that you can imagine you are there, sharing in the struggles of Mat Feltner (A Place on Earth) or The Memory of Old Jack. I’ve shed many a tear reading these moving stories. Many times after completing a book and closing the back cover, I’ve sat and reflected on the characters to which I’ve felt a strong kinship and longing to go back to a simpler time.

I recommend starting with the very first Port William novel, Nathan Coulter, and continue from there. My favorite Port William stories include:

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