It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays

Wendell Berry. Counterpoint, $14.95 paperback (128p) ISBN 978-1-61902-114-3
Poet, novelist, and farmer Berry restates his love for the land in these sonorous essays. The title piece, his 2012 Jefferson Lecture, posits that an abiding affection for place, such as his family's deep ties to rural Kentucky, is essential for "a neighborly, kindly and conserving economy." Elsewhere, he explores his adventures in civil disobedience, Kentuckians' fraught relationship with their landscape, the coal industry's assault on Appalachia, and the horse-drawn agriculture of the Amish. Together, these loose-limbed writings elaborate on Berry's agrarian critique of industrial society and corporate power, discussing the devastation wrought by agribusiness on small farmers and the ecosphere and by modern mobility and consumerism on the human connection to nature. Berry's case for limits, localism and devotion to the soil is more manifesto than detailed argument. Alternating between lyricism and jeremiad, his writing bristles with contrarian jabs—he insists that abundant clean energy would just encourage more ecological havoc—that declaim more than they demonstrate. Still, these powerful, challenging essays show why Berry's vision of a sustainable, human-scaled society has proven so influential. Agent: Judy Klein, Kleinworks. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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