HOME ECONOMICS by Wendell Berry


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A collection of essays by Kentucky poet and novelist Berry, and about as exciting as its title. The author addresses political questions about Economy, Defense, Agriculture, and the concept of Community. Because of all these weighty notions, he adopts a moribund prose style: ""The best land maintenance, the best livestock husbandry, like the best stone masonry, require excellent local intelligence, locally applied, and applied, for the most part, on a modest scale."" This excessive repetition occurs throughout. Berry's pedantic tone may be partly a result of his polemic intent, but the effect is only one of a plodding sameness, however sincere and well-intentioned his opinions may be. Berry is a hard-and-fast localist, individualist, and prefers of small to big: he has a horror of the statistic, the generalization, and the mass approach. While in the past some fine minds have agreed with this point of view, nowadays it represents a regressive political attitude that uses these sentiments to inspire decisions about issues that belong more properly on a national agenda. For all of Berry's warmhearted regionalism, he leaves out the arguments when his rural outlook doesn't apply. A literary slog to the woodshed.

Pub Date: June 24th, 1987
Publisher: North Point