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A Place in Time

Twenty Stories of Port William

List Price: $15.95

August 13, 2013 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 256 Pages | ISBN 9781619021884

"...a style as clean and distinctive as Hemingway’s, as perspicacious as Mark Twain’s." —Booklist Starred Review

For more than fifty years, Wendell Berry has been telling us stories about Port William, a mythical town on the banks of the Kentucky River, populated over the years by a cast of unforgettable characters living in a single place over a long time. In this new collection, the author’s first piece of new fiction since the publication of Andy Catlett in 2006, the stories date’s range from 1864, when Rebecca Dawe finds herself in her own reflection at the end of the Civil War, to one from 1991 when Grover Gibbs’ widow, Beulah, attends the auction as her home place is offered for sale.

It feels as if the entire membership, all the Catletts, Burley Coulter, Elton Penn, the Rowanberrys, Laura Milby, the preacher’s wife, Kate Helen Branch, Andy’s dog, Mike, nearly everyone returns with a story or two, to fill in the gaps in this long tale. Those just now joining the Membership will be charmed. Those who’ve attended before will be enriched.

The story of the community of Port William is one of the great works in American literature. Published in the author’s 78th year, this collection, the tenth volume in the series, is the perfect occasion to celebrate his huge achievement.

WENDELL BERRY is the author of more than fifty books of poetry, fiction, and essays. He was recently awarded the National Humanities Medal, the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Louis Bromfield Society Award. For more than forty years he has lived and farmed with his wife, Tanya, in Kentucky.


“Readers of Berry’s other fiction will know some of the narrators—humorous, independent, compassionate Burley Coulter; lifelong but by no means unromantic bachelor Jayber Crow; and quietly magisterial Andy Catlett, the most frequent storyteller and Berry’s surrogate. The incidents range from Andy’s great-great-grandmother’s face-off with a renegade soldier to Burley’s eyewitness account of the unwillingly outrageous courtship of Big Ellis to Andy’s young son Marcie’s reaction to the sudden death of Elton Penn, the finest farmer his father ever knew. The language is warm and cool, as called for; consists mostly of one- and two-syllable words; and constitutes a style as clean and distinctive as Hemingway’s, as perspicacious as Mark Twain’s.” —Booklist Starred Review

“Berry is a maker of beautiful sentences, lightly touched with Southern dialect and soberly concerned with the future of the agrarian spirit.” —Kirkus

“Berry (Hannah Coulter) returns home to Kentucky in his 10th volume in the Port William Membership series with 20 new interconnected stories of the sleepy farming community and its townsfolk. Told from various perspectives and in cadenced reflections, these quiet and meditative “relics and scraps of memory” speak eloquently of familial and romantic love, slavery and war, loss and time’s slow but inevitable passing, all with a solemnity and candor often found in Faulkner or Twain… For longtime fans and those new to the series, this rich slice of evolving Americana is just as poignant and enjoyable as ever.” —Publishers Weekly

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