"Berry is a superb writer. His sense of what makes characters tick is extraordinary . . . Short stories don't get any better than these." -- People As part of Counterpoint's celebration of beloved American author Wendell Berry comes this reissue of his 1986 classic, The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership . Those stories include "Thicker Than Liquor", "Where Did They Go?", "It Wasn't Me", "The Boundary", "That Distant Land", and the titular "The Wild Birds." Spanning more than three decades, from 1930 to 1967, these wonderful stories follow Wheeler Catlett, and reintroduce readers to the beloved people who live in Berry's fictional town of Port William, Kentucky.
“Praise for The Wild Birds "Berry is a superb writer. His sense of what makes characters tick is extraordinary. His farmers love their land in a powerful bond that moves them forward, generation after generation, with a sense of fulfillments that seems unique in this day of disaffected heroes and writers who turn to black humor when they must deal with eternal verities . . . Short stories don''t get any better than these." -- People "Berry is a poet of landscapes and legacies: The Wild Birds is a heartfelt exploration of the complex bonds between generations and the ways in which a neighborhood is shaped by its common ties to the land and undone when those connections weaken." -- San Francisco Chronicle " The Wild Birds is one of those books that remind one of the real purpose and possibilities of the literary art. The good and simple truth to which each of Berry''s stories testifies is that its author observes people carefully, understands them precisely, and cares about them deeply; bombast, pretension, and narcissism are alien to him . . . One has the refreshing impression that Berry doesn''t give a damn what''s in and what''s out; he writes what he wants to write." -- The New Criterion "Readers would have to look long and hard to find a more polished and engaging collection of stories. Wendell Berry once again has proven himself an original American prose voice." -- San Diego Magazine "In these stories, Berry traces the history of a loosely affiliated, unofficial, fictional group of dead and living men and women, ''the membership of the fields'' in Port William, a community in Kentucky''s tobacco country . . . Told with the same intelligence, craft, and reverence that characterize Berry''s novels, essays on agriculture, and poems, these stories have at their core the necessity of human friendship, ''the good that has been possible in the world . . . the good that is desirable in it.'' Highly recommended." -- Library Journal "This collection of six interrelated stories, set in the 1930s through the ''70s, portrays life in backcountry Kentucky and its county seat, ''a dying town in the midst of a wasting country.'' Wheeler Catlett, the central, unifying figure, is a lawyer whose roots and sensibilities exfoliate from the soil of the surrounding farmland. He is its voice and consciousness, its collective memory; his ''clients,'' who are also his friends, neighbors and kinfolk, provide his cast of characters." -- Publishers Weekly Praise for Fidelity "Berry richly evokes Port William''s farmlands and hamlets, and his characters are fiercely individual, yet mutually protective in everything they do. . . . His sentences are exquisitely constructed, suggesting the cyclic rhythms of his agrarian world." -- New York Times Book Review "Each of these elegant stories spans the twentieth century and reveals the profound interconnectedness of the farmers and their families to one another, to their past and to the landscape they inhabit." -- The San Francisco Chronicle "Visionary . . . rooted in a deep concern for nature and the land, . . . [these stories are] tough, relentless and clear. In a roundabout way they are confrontational because they ask basic questions about men and women, violence, work and loyalty." --Hans Ostrom, The Morning News Tribune "The rarest (and highest) of literary classes consists of that small group of authors who are absolutely inimitable....One of the half-dozen living American authors who belong in this class is Wendell Berry....[this] whole book is vintage Berry." -- Los Angeles Times "Birth, life, death and the primary institutions of family and community are the axes on which the stories turn. Their plots are as slender as fence posts: a soldier walks home at war''s end; a young woman with a mild fever ponders her first years of marriage; a taciturn farmer takes his moribund father out of a hospital''s intensive care unit so the old man can die with dignity. But Berry invests them with intense feeling, using the plain language of a largely oral culture, building metaphors and similes that have the clear ring of folk wisdom. His ground''s-eye view of events can be chilling, as when he sums up World War II as a great tearing apart. If the stories seem somber in their emphasis on loss, the pains are clearly leavened by the comforts of community and connectedness that a small town can provide. An excellent introduction to one of America''s finest prose writers." -- Publishers Weekly "In these five interrelated stories, Berry focuses once again on the fictional town of Port William and on characters like Andrew Catlett, the central figure of his novel The Remembering. Each story dramatizes an individual crisis but also emphasizes an abiding sense of community and the simple but solid agrarian values that sustain it. Berry''s tales . . . are engaging and display a quiet but powerful dignity." -- Library Journal "Berry has employed all the forms he works in--poetry, the essay, fiction short and long--toward an examination of what it means to be placed: what here and elsewhere he calls ''membership''; American individualism-turned-loneliness seems like the nightmare that puts his eloquence to greatest use . . . Ultimately, the prose of the stories less illustrates the Port William values--forgiveness, dignity, fidelity, community--than provides an indelible, surefooted rhythm for them. Cadenced, eternal-seeming sentences plank everything; there is an enchantment to them . . . Uncommonly satisfying art and vision." -- Kirkus Reviews Praise for Watch With Me "Wendell Berry writes with a good husbandman''s care and economy... His stories are filled with gentle humor." -- The New York Times Book Review "Berry is the master of earthy county living seen through the eyes of laconic farmers... He makes his stories shine with meaning and warmth." -- Christian Science Monitor "A small treasure of a book... part of a long line that descends from Chaucer to Katherine Mansfield to William Trevor." -- Chicago Tribune "With the simplicity of folk tales, these stories beautifully evoke a world where people live in relatively harmony with nature, the land and community, and where neighborliness and human scale still matter." -- Publishers Weekly "This charming collection examines the lives of Tol and Miss Minnie on their Kentucky farm from 1908 to 1941. Despite its universal appeal, this book is distinctly Southern, rich with delightful colloquialisms and the mores and attitudes of rural folk of that time. Some stories are framed... underscor[ing] the fact that storytelling and the past are integral to Southern society... Every reader deserves the opportunity to meet Tol and Miss Minnie." -- Library Journal "These seven stories relate incidents in the life of a very good man, Ptolemy--''Tol''--Proudfoot, towering final scion of a line of Kentucky farmers loved for their gentleness, intelligence, and gregariousness and their sense of and love for their place and work in the world... Their diction is as chaste as a Bible story''s; they express a biblical reverence for life and community, yet they''re funny, too, and so beautiful." -- Booklist "The local nature of their canny, comic tonalities, the old-timey subtitle, and the fact that all the action takes place before 1942 might lead browsers to take these Berry stories as merely quaint. That would be a mistake. In fact, like Isaac Bashevis Singer, Berry has been expanding by contraction, husbanding by close focus--in Berry''s case, on the familiar demesne of Port William, Ky... The long title story, which closes the collection, is a masterpiece... The tale clarifies Berry''s direction, as he moves way beyond nostalgia toward an immersion in other lives that expresses itself as a sense of intimate apartness--a willingness to follow his characters, but not necessarily to change them. Poetry nestled inside prose: startlingly and classically moving." -- Kirkus Reviews Praise for Nathan Coulter "An assured depiction of the coming of age of a young man in rural America... By any standards an unusual and rewarding writer, Berry is especially recommended to readers struggling with the moral and ethical questions confronting contemporary Americans." -- Newsday "Spare, elegant and eloquent... [ Nathan Coulter ] is an absolute jewel." -- San Francisco Chronicle "The Coulter family, like the rest of the people who dwell in this tiny farming community... are caught on the wheel of nature, which is at once blindingly beautiful and unwittingly cruel... The narrative is stunning, the natural scene is beautifully evoked." -- Los Angeles Times "Berry''s prose, so carefully tuned you never know it is there, carries us into the very heart of Nathan Coulter and into the land itself." -- San Jose Mercury News Praise for A Place on Earth "The revised version of A Place on Earth is a masterpiece - the best thing Wendell Berry has done, a book not to be missed." -- The New York Times Book Review "This is not a book to read at a sitting. It needs to be savored. Written by a craftsman poet, every word is chosen with great care. Many of Berry''s poems reveal the same fascination with the rhythms and cycles of rural living as A Place on Earth , just as his essays reflect his integrity and common sense." -- Newsday "Granted, when measured by t”
WENDELL BERRY , an essayist, novelist, and poet. In 2010, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama, and in 2016, he was the recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle. Berry lives with his wife, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Henry County, Kentucky.