From the revered poet, novelist, and environmentalist, these 31 essays selected by Paul Kingsnorth span five decades of work addressing issues ranging from small farming and economics to feminism and civil disobedience.
It is his profound understanding of self, place, and personal responsibility that has established Berry’s essential greatness as a writer, poet, philosopher, naturalist, and neighbor ... The World-Ending Fire...could not have come at a better time as our nation thrashes about in search of a voice of reason ... the collection...rhapsodizes in a kind of orchestral composition of rhetorical movements—from ethos to pathos to logos and back again ... Berry is at his best when in motion, poetically punctuating his romp through the landscape with delicious descriptions of the flowering bluebells and stately sycamores ... But this pulsating joy of his, living next to nature, is always tempered by his robust disgust and awareness of the ominous 'perhaps fatal' effect of one’s 'presumptuousness in living in a place by the imposition on it of one’s ideas and wishes' ... The World-Ending Fire ought to be required reading...Wendell Berry is our National Guardian Angel!
Berry is not the type of chipper environmentalist who believes that capitalism can persist unabated as long as we install more solar panels. Nor is he the type of cerebral climate catastrophist who considers all action futile ... On the whole, this political ambivalence works to Berry’s advantage, allowing him a kind of broad appeal that few anti-capitalists or conservationists enjoy ... At times it is frustrating that political categories and ideologies as such rarely figure into his work, though he examines their effects. Wary of large-scale solutions and 'government planning,' in World-Ending Fire, Berry repeatedly rails against 'bureaucrats' ... But Berry reminds us that to take small solutions off the table is also a kind of giving up ... It is important—no matter what is going on at a macro level—to be kind to your family, your neighbors and the land.
Berry is the philosopher and the prophet of agriculture, community, stability, and friendship, and there is nothing sentimental or utopian anywhere in his advocacy of those things. Rather, he is humbly empirical ... He is precise about America’s great delusions ... There is much more, all, yes, essential.