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A World Lost Hardcover – October 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; First Edition edition (October 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887178228
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887178228
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,328,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Wendell Berry is absolutely unique in American letters: a poet, novelist, essayist, and man of the land whose pastoral vision presents a ringing indictment of modern materialist society. A World Lost is the latest in Berry's fictional recreations of the lost world of Port William, Kentucky, in the 1940s, and it tells the story of Uncle Andrew Catlett, a womanizer and roisterer whose death in a trivial argument is retold by his grown nephew, Andy. Berry is uninterested in stylistic leaps or postmodern bravura: he is interested in a profound, well-told tale of honor and memory and community.

From Publishers Weekly

Brilliantly detailed characters and subtle social observations distinguish Berry's unassuming but powerful fifth novel. The T.S. Eliot Award-winning poet, essayist and novelist writes with the authority of a man steeped in the culture of a time and place, again the fictional town of Port William, Ky., familiar to the readers of his previous works. Approaching his 60th birthday, Andy Catlett still struggles to understand the conspiracy of silence that has kept him from the truth about the day in the summer of 1944 when his namesake, his irresponsible, black sheep Uncle Andrew, was murdered. On that fateful afternoon, when his beloved uncle refuses his request to accompany him on his mission to dismantle the outbuildings of a nearby abandoned lead mine, nine-year-old Andy sneaks away from his grandmother and luxuriates in the forbidden pleasure of swimming alone in the farm pond. When he returns, Andy is called into his father's presence and informed that his uncle has been shot. While it is impossible for his elders to shield him from their grief, young Andy is kept in the dark about the circumstances of the tragedy. He is left to go through life bearing a misplaced sense of guilt. Imbued with the textures, dialect and social mores of backwater Kentucky during WWII, the narrative is pulled along by a chain of revelations about the interior lives of the characters. Berry shows us the psychic costs of misplaced family pride and social rigidity, and yet he also celebrates the benevolent blessing of familial love. This is simple, soul-satisfying storytelling, augmented by understated humor and quiet insight.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
Wendell Berry is a truly great writer. He tells a simple story : how a young boy's life changes forever because of his favorite uncle's sudden death, and more importantly, how one event can shape the remainder of a person's life. In these days of relentless, horrific tragedies which are never fully assimilated or understood, Berry sets a timeless stage in the small town of Port William, Kentucky, where the same events are felt for generations. In his books there is all the time in the world, to feel, to adjust, to accept. He uses just the right words and not too many of them. His language has a clarity and spaciousness that leaves a reader deeply refreshed. I would highly recommend his book of short stories, "Fidelity" ( and that story in particular). As in the best classics of literature, the reader is transported to another world and comes away a better person for it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "labibliophile" on October 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Nine-year-old Andy Catlett's sweet and comfortable childhood is turned upside down in the summer of 1944 when his favorite uncle, for whom he is named, is murdered. Determined to learn the truth behind the crime, the now grown-up Andy examines the evidence, which consists mainly of the recollections of his uncle's family and friends in the town of Port William, Kentucky.
The truth proves elusive, but the portrait of Uncle Andrew and the world he inhabited that emerges from this small jewel of a book is beautifully wrought, and the love that exists among family members and among friends is the real truth after all.
A good mystery and deeply emotional.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas S. Fiske on December 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
It was "A World Lost" that brought me into contact with Wendell Berry, and I will never forget meeting this wonderful writer. There is a compelling wistfulness throughout his fine novel that brought me back to its pages again and again. It is not a controversial book, but it is a piece of art that belongs on American people's bookshelves. Well written, "A World Lost" draws the reader into the life of a small boy whose wonderful uncle, his ideal, is snatched away through an act of murder. Mr. Berry tells the tale with innocent but elegant simplicity. He is a masterful writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Happy Face on July 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book for a book club, in part because it was one of Berry's shorter novels and easier to read in time for the date of our book club meeting. I LOVED this book. Berry writes so beautifully and so honestly about family, marriage, and fatherhood. He is one of my favorite authors and an excellent choice both for independent reading and group studies. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Larry R. Smith on April 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
So our good friend Wendell Berry takes us back among his Kentucky people. The year is 1944 but it ranges through the narrator into the present time. Nine-year-old Andy Catlett weaves the tale of his beloved Uncle Andrew, taken from him by a ruthless act yet with him still in the life he makes for himself in that space which great compassion give. Berry is a master of looking and listening close, and his story is really about not losing but gaining a life ground, but that is the puzzle and secret of this fine tale. I strongly recommend it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
With a heart, a clear sense of life, an artistic ability to craft words from images, and a distinctive knowlege of all things inter-connected, Wendell Berry has presented us with yet another captivating and thoughtful work of fiction. The same artistic creation of thoughts, images, and feelings as earlier works of Memory of Old Jack and Watch With Me. A true gift. The memories of an adult man, reflecting to his life as a ten-year old boy, with love and compassion for an Uncle, a father, grandparents, and small town friends. The memories come from the small boy, but the story touches something basic that lies within all of us.
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Format: Paperback
This gem of a book is straight forward with no self conscious
show off writing as some well known writers are determined to do.
Berry's simple prose sets the stage for his strong story as simple
prose will often do. I like his writing. I was moved by the story. I will be
reading more of Wendell Berry's work.
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By Judith A. Haugen on March 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
Wendell Berry can write a story with a very simple plot and make me think more than I do in the course of reading several other novels. His words linger with me.

"But now I have been here a fair amount of time, and slowly I have learned that my true home is not just this place but is also that company of immortals with whom I have lived here day by day."
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