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The Rural Life Hardcover – December 2, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (December 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316741671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316741675
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Klinkenborg's third book (after Making Hay and The Last Fine Time) is a selection of columns originally appearing on the New York Times editorial page under the heading "A Rural Life." They document in vivid detail the daily challenges of life in the country, and on a farm in particular. Though the columns are drawn from seven years of writing, the book is organized into a single year-12 chapters starting in "January" and ending in "December"-and flits from topic to topic, relying on a few short passages of news or descriptions of holidays to mark the passage of time. Likewise, the author never sticks to one place for long, but ranges across the continent of the U.S. and glimpses events in dozens of country towns from Wyoming and New Hampshire to Minnesota and New Mexico. Some episodes are emblematic of contemporary American culture: a high school football game, President Clinton's dedication of Walden Pond, the disquiet in the days following September 11. Others are more intimate passages discussing the author's family and the solace he finds in keeping bees, stacking hay or simply turning earth. Though this highly personal chronicle lacks any narrative arc other than the changing of the seasons and the author's emotional reaction to them, nothing in the prose is accidental, and the deliberate, finely hewn sentences convey, above all else, the seriousness with which Klinkenborg takes the task of watching the world around him. A heady meditation on our relationship to nature, echoing the works of the transcendentalists Thoreau and Emerson, the writing is much closer to poetry than essay.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board of the New York Times and author of Making Hay. This collection of essays, most of which have previously been published in the NYT and elsewhere, describe his experiences of rural life, from his farm in upstate New York and in the American West. When a book is a compilation of essays, it can often suffer from a lack of continuity or context. While these selections are gathered according to month, they leap from geographic locations without regard to year; in fact, there is no indication of when they were written (except a couple references to 9/11). Klinkenborg explains: "If spring seems to be well advanced on one page and balky and weeks behind on the next...I'm probably describing two very different springs." Because he writes so well, one can endure the bumpy ride. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
--Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

The prose is poetic and transcending. .
D. Johnson
I enjoyed reading this book very much and it inspired me in my own rural adventure.
Michelle Mersdorf
Verlyn Klinkenborg's family was / is part of that industrialization success story.
Mark Z Bruns

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By T. Munson on January 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Verlyn Klinkenborg's latest book has just been released and apparently it is flying out of bookstores everywhere (within 3 weeks of it's publication date, it had already gone into a second printing). Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board of the New York Times, where, for the past five years, he has been writing a column entitled "The Rural Life." Some of us have been assiduously saving these essays, most no more that 700 words, not to mention the fact that we have been regularly sending them to our relatives and friends who don't read the Times. The fact that some 100 of them are collected into a single volume, ordered by the months of the year, seems almost too good to be true. This beautifully written book is about as close to poetry as prose gets.
The Rural Life is a book about observations, the observations of someone carrying the imprint of a childhood on farms Iowa and California, and now, in middle age, and somewhat to his own surprise, trying his own hand at farming on a small tract of land in upstate New York. One of the things that is so compelling about the book is the author's genuine sense of wonder and pleasure at noticing the small details of life in the natural world. By being quiet and gentle in his interactions, Klinkenborg finds himself receiving a free education where many have found only frustration. True, Klinkenborg has the luxury of not being dependent on farming for his livelihood. However, with so much bankruptcy in the world--financial, political, spiritual-we need somebody to remind us that if we just pay attention to the small change there's enough wealth for everyone.
Richmond, MA 12/20/02
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Diane on August 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
To read this delightful little book was to be carried into his space and more fully into my own. It made me breathe slower. I know of no higher praise to give. Once, right in the middle of reading, I stopped, called a friend on the phone and asked for a moment to read a passage. She, too, was delighted.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Karina Holtz on April 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
To my knowledge, no one describes the twelve months of the year more articulately than Klingkenborg. With a month-by-month description, he picks out all the details that he believes piece together a single day, and ultimately, a year. His words are deeply poetic; from the description of the windblown grass to the smell of the morning rain, the script strikes nostalgia into the hearts of all readers. The pure richness of Klinkenborg's book makes The Rural Life come to life with every word.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The two-star review from the farmer in Iowa is well-meaning and correct about his life, but Verlyn Klinkenborg--although he hails from that background--is writing from another place. No, Klinkenborg is not out doing the tough physical work to earn his living, but what he tells us about living is essential to those of us who often imagine ourselves in his shoes and appreciate what he shares. If you want a sense of the book, read the Editorial Reviews, which well describe his poetic love for the rural experience.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth DeBarros on March 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Every time I read Klinkenborg's musings, I escape to a land not my own, coming out renewed. He has a vast command of the language, able to string common words together to make them sound brand new. I keep my copy in the loo, as the chapters are short and fully satisfying until my next visit. A worthy book to own or give as a gift to someone who appreciates quality prose that brings the reader close to the earth.
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61 of 81 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Not a substantial piece, but rather seemingly unrelated, random observations. I found the title, "The Rural Life," to be rather misleading. As one who grew up on a farm and whose parents still operate a farm, I found the random sketches to be rather affected attempts to capture what is clearly a heartfelt, respectful affection for "rural living," but when conjured up by a member of the New York Times editorial board play-acting at the rural life through a hobby farm in upstate NY, the concept seems disingenuous and hollow. The authenticity, starkness, simple pleasures and raw beauty are not found here, but seem to be replaced by a tone that is too manufactured and lacking in the genuine pitch and pace of rural life.
.... If you grew up on a real farm -- e.g. one where the farm provided your family's income rather than a job in NYC -- you'll find the author and the book take themselves a bit too seriously and that the work does not have a real feel for farm life. For less money, Kent Haruf's Plainsong and Enger's Peace Like a River are more lyrical and powerful works that effortlessly evoke the experience of rural life, or at least life in small farm towns.
....
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By LaKisha Roper on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was very interesting to me. I just love the way the author seems to make the animals that are in the book such as the horses, birds, bees etc... have so much life. The country life seems to be fun and adventurous for someone like myself because things happen in the country that I would have never expected.the funniest part in the book was when the author is explaining to the readers how they had early birds singing get up songs. I also really enjoy the entire chapters being broken down into months because it was easier for me to coprehend what happened and when. This book is so inspiring and full of details.
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