RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewMemoirs about farming tend to slide in one of two directions: the farce or the ode. Neither of those genres is as satisfying as what we have in Ellyn Gaydos’s debut memoir, Pig Years, about her life as a farmhand in New York and Vermont. What this young writer has given us is more of a memento mori, rendering realistic scenes full of vivid and sometimes bizarre detail, always with an acknowledgment — on the surface or just under it — of the inescapable facts that life entails death, and growth, and arises from decay ... Her extended exploration of what it is to nurture life (wild and domesticated, plant and animal) and also end it is one of the most compelling parts of the book ... Occasionally, the writing is overripe and Gaydos’s thoughts seem undigested. We can feel, just behind these pages, the notebooks she filled on hot summer nights after pigs were fed and weeds were pulled. But the overall effect is of access and intimacy; Gaydos lets us into her world, and we follow her to the worthy and unforgiving place where nature and agriculture meet.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThank the gods of agriculture for James Rebanks ... We experience that esoteric life through Rebanks’s evocative storytelling ... Rebanks is generous with his descriptions, and patient in explaining the choices farmers make every day that will decide the fate of rural communities and the planet itself ... Rebanks shows clearly that hope hinges on who exactly is willing to pay the real price of food and good farming.