Fidelity: five stories

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Pantheon Books, 1992 - Fiction - 201 pages
6 Reviews
With Fidelity Wendell Berry revisits the Port William membership, a fictional rural community in contemporary America. These five stories explore the love, trust, and wisdom of people modern society often neglects: small farmers, housekeepers, people who work the land and know their roots. Their "common" sense is their sense of community, compassion, and reverence for nature - values that must become common again if our society is to survive, if the earth itself is to survive. In "Pray Without Ceasing", Andy Catlett sits at his grandmother's side, seeing his violent family history through her eyes. Listening to her story, he comes to know his place as a child of forgiveness, a link between past and future. In "A Jonquil for Mary Penn", a young bride sits alone, sick with a fever and haunted by past decisions, and slowly remembers her newfound kinship. In "Making It Home", Arthur Rowanberry returns from World War II, travelling by foot across familiar land. "Now I know a mighty power that can pass over the earth and make it strange", he thinks as he moves from the work of destruction toward the work of creation. And In "Fidelity", Danny Branch "rescues" his father, Burley Coulter, from life-prolonging hospital machinery in a crime that has no name. These tales, and the people they tell of, are woven together by an unshakable love and faithfulness. This fidelity is present in Elton, Mary Penn's husband, who sees that his wife is ill and asks a friend to look after her, and in the men who walk into the late night to check on flooded neighbors in "Are You All Right?" And it is present in Henry Catlett, Danny Branch's lawyer, as he explains to the detective investigating Burley's kidnapping:"A man has disappeared from your world, Mr. Bode, that he wasn't in for very long. ..".He has disappeared into his people and his place, not to be found in this world again forever". Wendell Berry once again proves himself a master storyteller.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sandydog1 - LibraryThing

Lyrical. That's the word I use when I can't describe concise, simple, beautiful prose. I learned about Wendell Berry from a LT group about nature or the outdoors. He is not a nature writer, however ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - juniperSun - LibraryThing

Quiet, homey stories. I might have liked this better if I had read any of the longer Port William books first. As it was, for some of the stories there wasn't enough background for me to fully enter ... Read full review

Contents

Pray Without Ceasing
3
Making It Home
83
Are You All Right?
191
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About the author (1992)

Wendell Berry The prolific poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry is a fifth-generation native of north central Kentucky. Berry taught at Stanford University; traveled to Italy and France on a Guggenheim Fellowship; and taught at New York University and the University of Kentucky, Lexington, before moving to Henry County. Berry owns and operates Lanes Landing Farm, a small, hilly piece of property on the Kentucky River. He embraced full-time farming as a career, using horses and organic methods to tend the land. Harmony with nature in general, and the farming tradition in particular, is a central theme of Berry's diverse work. As a poet, Berry gained popularity within the literary community. Collected Poems, 1957-1982, was particularly well-received. Novels and short stories set in Port William, a fictional town paralleling his real-life home town of Port Royal further established his literary reputation. The Memory of Old Jack, Berry's third novel, received Chicago's Friends of American Writers Award for 1975. Berry reached his broadest audience and attained his greatest popular acclaim through his essays. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture is a springboard for contemporary environmental concerns. In his life as well as his art, Berry has advocated a responsible, contextual relationship with individuals in a local, agrarian economy.

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