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That Distant Land: The Collected Stories (Port William) Paperback – March 10, 2005
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Berry's fiction focuses on the invented town of Port William, a small farming community in Kentucky. For those who have read his novels, the characters and the town are familiar; for those who haven't, Berry's world is so infused with natural grace that one automatically feels at home in Port William and among its inhabitants. "That Distant Land" gathers together assorted stories about Port William's characters, some that are familiar and told from a different perspective, and some that might be unknown, but no less familiar.
I especially enjoyed the stories that told of Ptolemy Proudfoot and his wife, Miss Minnie Quinch. "A Consent", the story of their odd courtship, is a story that leaves your soul beaming at the simplicity and overwhelming power of love. The Proudfoot-Miss Minnie stories add a dimension of humor to this collection that is absent in other stories. Berry does not rush any of these stories along; some are short, light-hearted anecdotes - others are long, meandering wanders through time and memory. Perhaps the two most poignant stories in the collection are "Fidelity" and the title piece.Read more ›
This collection of stories about Port William spans the late 19th century to the tail-end of the 20th century. Most of the stories have been anthologized in other collections, but taken together here in chronological order, this anthology makes for a novel-like whole about people, their town and their ways of life that are either gone or gradually disappearing. Rather than sadness, though, the overall sense I get from Berry's tales is one of gratitude that such lives and such times came to pass and that they could be chronicled.
Idealized and parochial visions? Perhaps, but in a USA that these days seems so broadly fragmented across social, political and geographic lines, and where so much time and energy is spent detailing the worst aspects of an American dream gone wrong, it's heartening to read fiction by someone who remembers the good if flawed humanity that we all possess. This anthology and Berry's other fiction about Port William are storytelling at it's best. Recommended.
Every one of the stories is well-crafted, and, taken as a group, both their quality and their scope are little short of astonishing. From the tenderness of the stories about Wheeler Catlett and his law practice first collected in The Wild Birds to the boisterous, almost slapstick humor of the Ptolemy Proudfoot stories first collected in Watch With Me, Berry covers an impressive range of material.
He also confronts the reader with some difficult questions regarding the value of a way of life that had already, for the most part, vanished when he published the first of these stories. One need not agree with the answers that he suggests to admire and enjoy these stories.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great stories told by a master story-teller.
If you are not acquainted with Wendell Berry - This is a good place to begin...
Incredible book. I cannot imagine an author doing a better job of capturing the joys and sadnesses of every day life better than Wendell Berry does.Published 13 months ago by Jeffrey B.
I am a huge fan - I love his writing and have given his books to friends from Kentucky over the years.Published 16 months ago by carolann Hayes
These read like the stories a child might here at a family reunion. Berry's understated style makes for good, thoughtful reading.Published 17 months ago by Green Chile
I hated this book. Yes, the idea sounds cool because living in those times and dealing with everyday poverty right here in the USA sounded interesting. Read morePublished 24 months ago by NoaEliana
Even if you're not well acquainted with Port William and its beautifully drawn characters, these stories will go straight to your heart. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Marjorie Hart
The writing evokes a simpler place and time. I especially like the use of language and dialogue. I enjoyed it.Published on July 14, 2014 by Carol McDowall