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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rural Life in Review
This book is a really good read for anyone but especially if you have lived in rural America, it will definitely appeal to you. My folks lived in a town of about 500 or so in rural Kansas and this book epitomizes the sights, sounds, and smells of rural and country life. The details of the observations of country living are incredible, so much so you can almost smell the...
Published 16 months ago by Avid Mystery Reader

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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit repetitive...
I sincerely enjoyed the prose in this book. As his style Mr. Klinkenborg clearly details his trials of leaving the city and pursuing a life running a farm. His tales of trial and error are very entertaining, thought provoking and makes us all a little envious of that excitement we wish we could experience. However, after reading short story after short story they seem...
Published 12 months ago by B. Hamlin


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Bedtime Book, June 20, 2013
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L. M Young (Marietta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
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I am not familiar with Mr. Klinkenborg's column, but have enjoyed rural life observations from favorites such as Gladys Taber, Mary O'Hara, Haydn Pearson, and Rachel Peden. I was not disappointed with this thoughtful book of essays about life on a northern New York State farm, as well as other Western locations he has visited. Occasionally, I thought he was too detached from his observations, but chiefly I just enjoyed his lovely descriptions of countryside and animal life. These short entries are perfect to read before going to sleep, a welcome respite from our frantic electronic world.

If you enjoyed this volume, I highly recommend O'Hara's out-of-print but well worth searching for WYOMING SUMMER, a diary of life on a ranch in the 1930s.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rural Life in Review, June 2, 2013
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This book is a really good read for anyone but especially if you have lived in rural America, it will definitely appeal to you. My folks lived in a town of about 500 or so in rural Kansas and this book epitomizes the sights, sounds, and smells of rural and country life. The details of the observations of country living are incredible, so much so you can almost smell the earth from a plowed field and hear the wheat rustle as in blows in a Kansas wind! I also am partial to books that give the date in the title of the chapter (or the season or day, etc). I have always liked these sorts of books that take you to a simpler time and bring peace to your mind as you read them. They are like a mini vacation and this book is no exception. Yes, there are struggles in any rural living but the good outweighs the bad. This book is highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, lyrical. a keeper, July 18, 2013
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Rushmore (CHICAGO, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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As a city girl born and bred, I am always looking for new books and authors that illuminate the rural life. The day I discovered this author was a very good day indeed.

This is a collection of columns from the past decade about life on Verlyn Klinkenborg's upstate New York farm. The columns are sorted by year and by month. Each chapter is accompanied by an exquisite geometric line drawing. The book provides a beautiful sense of the land and nature imposing the rhythm of life on the farm. The language is simply gorgeous. I learned a few new words. I would recommend buying this book on Kindle because it's easier to look up the words. However, I am pleased to have this lovely book in hardcover.

I do want to comment on the Interlude section of the book. Usually an interlude is a relaxing break from the action. Here it is just the opposite. After the reader has settled comfortably into 4 or 5 years of the bucolic sweetness of life on the farm, Klinkenborg hits us with several columns about the impact of progress and technology. He definitely has a political agenda, and he definitely intends to rouse us out of our reverie. The effect is jarring and not so pleasing. I did consider removing a star, but I just love the rest of this book so much. After all, a reader puts oneself in the hands of an author because he/she wants to hear what that author has to say. I don't disagree with what he has to say in this section. Does he put a pall on my happy mood? Absolutely. It's hardly news that agriculture has changed over the decades, and that farmers always have stuff to worry about. It makes me love this book even more that he can still write so eloquently and movingly about the farmer's life.

In the final section of the book (Year 6-11), Klinkenborg does get off the farm to make a few trips, with and without animals. It's nice to have his perspective on the world at large, although I somewhat missed the coziness of being hunkered down on the farm.

This is not a quick read, at least it wasn't for me. It's a rare book that I want to savor as much as I do this one, rereading passages so I get every last bit of meaning. Like Walden, it will have a permanent place at my bedside. (Klinkenborg does not seem to be a huge fan of Thoreau but hopefully he would not mind this comparison.) It's a great book to just dive into anywhere for a brief and lovely escape from everyday life (mine anyway - Klinkenborg's is right there on the page). It's quite gratifying for this city girl to feel like I am right there on the farm.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wisdom of a farmer., July 13, 2013
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Verlyn Klinkenborg's "More Scenes from the Rural Life" is his second collection of essays from his regular "New York Times" editorial column. As the title indicates, the essays concentrate on Klinkenborg's life on his farm in upstate New York, although they also encompass his sojourns in places as far away as Los Angeles and Finland, his appreciation of various writers, his childhood and family reminiscences, and his thoughts on the general state of agriculture.

As those who have read his columns already know, Klinkenborg is a fine stylist, part poet and part philosopher. Here is how he describes watching fireflies on a summer night: "They rise from the grass, flickering higher and higher until one of them turns into the blinking lights of a jet flying eastward far above the horizon." And how he describes encountering a mangy, dying fox in his barn: "The fox and I looked at each other, only a few feet apart. If it had been a dog, I could have helped it. But even the pity in my eyes reminded it that it had come too close."

Klinkenborg is a worthy heir to the long tradition of American rural and wilderness writers, who retreat from urbanity to examine the world and their place within it. For most modern readers, that tradition begins with Thoreau and continues through John Muir, Ernest Thompson Seton, Aldo Leopold, E.B. White, Henry Beston, John Haines, Donald Hall, Edward Abbey, and Wendell Berry, among many others. But the writer to whom Klinkenborg pays tribute, especially at the end of the book, is the earliest of them all: William Cobbett. Cobbett, a Redcoat who decided to settle in the United States, was both the greatest political writer and the greatest agricultural writer of his day. Cobbett's "The American Gardener," first published in 1821, was an immediate bestseller and still, so Klinkenborg tells us, contains much that is invaluable to today's gardeners and farmers. "Cobbett tried to reconnect the rural men and women of 1821, defrauded of their agricultural birthright by England's disastrous wartime economy, with their elders, who were wise almost beyond remembering in the ways of the land," Klinkenborg tells us.

Klinkenborg sees modern-day people being similarly defrauded by factory farms and global agribusiness, and--along with Berry and a few others--argues that we forget old rural wisdom at our peril. By losing that wisdom, Klinkenborg says, we make our food supply worse-tasting, less nutritious, and less safe. "(I)f what farmers know, as well as what they do, matters, then you can't have too many farmers," he tells us in one essay. "Yet the thrust of conventional agriculture has been to drive farmers from the land, to depopulate the countryside, and to turn many of the farmers that remain into nothing more than contract laborers and heavy-equipment operators. The way we farm has divorced farmers utterly from the soil. Society and the soil suffer alike."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Walden, June 23, 2013
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This book, formed of essays and columns the author has written for such publications as the New York Times and National Geographic, are so peaceful and soothing to read. Having lived in upstate New York, i can see so many of the scenes that he is writing about. He draws wonderful word pictures and we see the patterns of snow on a horse's thick winter coat. These essays can be read and savored as I have done or read in one gulp. He makes us wish we could all be transported into a corner of his pasture to see for ourselves. This is a love of a book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Easy Chair Read, May 30, 2013
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mk (parker, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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This set of diary or journal-type entries takes one not only into rural farm life but the philosophy of life, in general, and the pleasure of simple observation.

Mr. Klinkenborg is an exceptional writer who also teaches writing. He definitely has the gift of prose down. The entries are quickly digestable as he discusses the trials and triumphs of farm life with humor and insight. There's always a point behind it, and even the so called mundane becomes something deeper.

His stories go beyond rural life as he travels about. He notices and expounds on anything that captures his curious mind, e.g., he lays about and thinks of all the pop machines that must currently be running in the world and the noises they make. There's profound meaning or at least interest in anything if we're willing to find it. It reminds me of Writing Class 101 in college where we were told to "discourse" on sitting in a chair or staring out the window(which I often found myself doing inadvertently). He's much more polished at it than I ever was.

Enjoyable, relaxing, fun read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, May 29, 2013
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Ten years since Klinkenborg's The Rural Life, this book gathers his newest nature writing chronicling life on his New York State farm. Klinkenborg's writing is quiet and contemplative, and you need to read it slowly and patiently. I was reminded of Edward Kanze's Over the Mountain and Home Again: Journeys of an Adirondack Naturalist, another book about nature in New York. Klinkenborg writes that he is counting the animals on his farm; Kanze inventoried all mammals, birds, and insects on his property.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nature Writing At Its Best, August 9, 2013
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"The Rural Life" seems an unlikely column to appear in the editorial pages of the very urban New York Times, but Verlyn Klinkenborg's inspired writings on life at his small upstate New York farm has been a beloved feature in The Times since 1997. This book is a collection of his best writing from his column over the last ten years. It's a delightful arm-chair study of the natural environment of his farm, and the critters, both wild and domesticated who live there. He writes with scientific scrutiny on all aspects of rural living, but just as easily can speak of horses, chickens and pigs with the fascination of a wide-eyed wondering child. His excursions to the western United States, which occupy several entries in the book, and his cavalier mention of the termination of his marriage late in the book, detract a bit from the warm fireplace glow this book radiates. It seems Klinkenborg could master insight from any conceivable subject he stumbles upon, and his divorce from the woman who helped build his beloved farm, seemed ripe for exploration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Serious Gardener Should Read This Book, August 5, 2013
This is the second volume (the first was The Rural Life) from this author, who is the popular columnist for the New York Times and also teaches creative writing at Yale. What you get with Klinkenborg is two estimable things: superb writing and devout ethics of gardening and farming. "Lapidary" is what they call this style of writing, prose that is so finely honed and brilliant that it seems etched in shining stone or glittering with jewels. He writes about his farm and garden with extremely acute observation and sympathy; I am not the first person who thought of Thoreau when reading him. His prose is incredibly spare and pure. He has so stripped it of adjectives that, when he allows himself to use one, it gleams with distinction like an ornament on a Christmas tree an "oaken autumn", a "wooden light". Verbs and adverbs drive the narrative with muscularity. The lack of adjectives means more prepositional clauses and they add a drumbeat of meter to the prose that almost converts it to poetry. He has deep convictions about the farmer/gardener's role as ethicist and he challenges each reader to examine himself for shortcomings. The book is built around eleven years of observation, eleven chapters, each with a short article written once a month or so and following the sequence of the seasons. After about a hundred pages of luminous prose, he offers an "interlude" of 20 pages of sober, sometimes disturbing issues of farming ethics that every thinking gardener should think about: the accelerating global shrinking of biodiversity, the link between population growth and the ruthless monoculture of big agribusiness, genetically modified crops and the shift of knowledge and intellectual property from individual farmers to big corporations, the horrors of cloned meat and the appalling state of our beef and dairy cattle industries. If you are serious about what you do in the garden, you should read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Find That I Will Enjoy Rereading, July 30, 2013
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Julie D. (Dallas, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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I hadn't heard of this author but was casting around for something different to read. The idea of reading someone's collected essays about life on a farm in upstate New York sounded just the thing, almost like an adult version of the Laura Ingalls Wilder tales I always loved as a child.

It was definitely the right choice as I have been enchanted by the beauty of Verlyn Klinkenborg's prose, the strength of his understanding of nature and animals, and in the vivid images which make me feel as if I am there in the country. It is almost as good as taking a vacation. I find myself deliberately slowing down, savoring the writing, and simply relaxing.

There is a section in the middle of the book called Interludes wherein are included more direct commentary on subjects like genetically engineered crops, big farming, and so forth. I read the first couple but, frankly, I found nothing that I hadn't picked up already in the more lyrical journal style writing from the rest of the book. One may agree with him or not in these more opinionated pieces and I found that about 90% of the time I did agree. However, as I say, I lost nothing in briefly skimming most of them and moving on. The essays which make up the main part of the book are more thoughtful and reflective and often make the same points in a gentler way which is more tied to the land. Therefore, I found these pointed pieces to be overkill. Your milage may vary. If it were not for these, I'd give the book five stars.

Despite the Interlude, this book is a rare find for me and one that I will enjoy rereading over the years.
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More Scenes from the Rural Life
More Scenes from the Rural Life by Verlyn Klinkenborg (Hardcover - May 14, 2013)
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