I’ve often seen Wendall Berry quoted (like on this blog here as well as here) and for my book of essays for this years Reading Challenge I chose to read his “essential” writings. I listened to this book mostly in the car on shorter jaunts, and getting through it this way took me many months. If I had read it in print, I probably would have gotten bogged down, but there would be tons of quotes in this post!
Wendall is a defender of the soil, and an opponent of unbridled consumerism; in these things I agree with him wholeheartedly. He’s very prescient; some of these essays were written in the sixties and sound very contemporary today, which is rather sobering.
He eschewed modern machinery and continued to use a team of horses on his land. Indeed, I liked the whole, plodding book except the ridiculous essay where he absurdly defends not buying a computer. All he shows in that one is that he can be a cranky curmudgeon, which does him a disservice, since he comes across wise and warm the rest of the time, even when riled.
Still living at 88 today, Wendall is a thinker, a philosopher, a poet, a writer, a farmer, and a family man. He’s had a well lived life connected to the land, and has spent it begging us not to destroy our precious earth. I hear his heart, for sure. The world would be better if there were more with as much conviction as him, as conscientious, and as steadfastly against destructive hubris and arrogance.
The World Ending Fire is slow going, while richly thought provoking. I give it four stars.