Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wendell Berry For Catholics

[From the Editor: it has been a while since I've posted Misfit Reading Group blogs, so this first one is already out-of-date]

Dear Misfits,

A World Lost and its author, Wendell Berry, were given great praise at our last meeting.  The novel has brilliantly detailed characters and subtle social observations that are a distinguishing characteristic of  Berry's writing style.  Berry effortlessly captures the dialect and social mores of a backwater Kentucky rural area during WWII  The narrative of the story is impelled by a chain of subtle revelations about the interior lives of the characters in the novel.

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 a simple, soul-satisfying novel wonderfully augmented by understated humor and quiet insight. It is one of the best novels we have read.; certainly in our top 10. For the errant Misfits we haven’t seen in awhile--go get a copy of this book and read it.  Your lives will be enriched! 

On to the future: 

Our December book is My Antonia by Willa Cather.  Noted author and critic H.L. Mencken once wrote, "No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as 'My Antonia.'"   I am really looking forward to reading and discussing this novel.  As you may recall, the first book read by the Misfits, was Cather’s wonderfully written Death Comes for the Archbishop.  It will be a pleasure to return to Cather to read My Antonia which was first published in 1918.  The novel is set in Nebraska in the late 19th century and is the story of the spirited daughter of a Bohemian immigrant family planning to farm on the untamed land ("not a country at all but the material out of which countries are made").  It is told through the romantic eyes of Jim Burden, newly orphaned and arriving at his grandparents' neighboring farm on the same night Antonia’s family strikes out to make good in their new country.   The novel is widely available and sells at Amazon for $8.99.

Our January book is A Canticle for Leibowitz which has been highly recommended by one of our Misfits.  Personally, I’ve been intending to read this novel for over 40 years!  The following is a recent review of the novel:

“Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth-century literature -- a chilling and still-provocative look at a post-apocalyptic future.

In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes. Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece.”

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1 comment:

  1. Why I need Wendell more now then ever: