I’m still reading Wendell Berry’s novels. I finished Three Short Novels and believe Remembering stands hand and shoulders out among the other two. Seeing Jayber Crow recommended in different Facebook groups and by word of mouth I put a copy on hold at my local library. I’m about halfway through it now and look forward to my time with it every night. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have a new favorite passion for literature. Wendell Berry has brought me a new vision for prose. I’m really bothered by this thought that novels are best used as means of escape from the mind. This will sound quite harsh, but I find that sentiment disgusting. I suppose I still feel passionate about words. The internet has brought us an ocean of words, and yet very little tools for using them wisely or deciphering their meaning. Wendell Berry is a man who weighs his words very deliberately. I consider him a teacher as well as a writer. By focusing his gaze on life’s little intensities, he demonstrates the grace that is being alive. One of the central complaints Jayber Crow levels at preachers and the church is their ambivalence for bodily concerns. Everything is about the sins of the body and the hereafter. Jayber says he doesn’t believe the preachers really believe their own preaching, because they love to eat, they love to relax, kiss their wives, and warm their bodies. For Wendell Berry the natural world itself is God’s gift for enjoying and that our first sign of God’s grace and mercy is this bodily life. In this same way, words are things. They don’t just point us to ideas or help us escape them, they themselves can instruct our gaze back to the beauty of this bodily life and our place in it. These words don’t come easy. I suspect that Wendell’s craft has been fashioned slowly, deliberately, painfully. This is why there are few writers like him.
BTW, thanks for the link MWBOK. That was a delightful surprise and you have a nice new blog.