Candid, introspective and often deeply philosophical, these letters offer intimate glimpses into the lives and minds of two...

DISTANT NEIGHBORS

THE SELECTED LETTERS OF WENDELL BERRY AND GARY SNYDER

A collection of letters chronicling two writers’ friendship and common interests in nature and faith.

Wriglesworth (English/Univ. of Waterloo) has gathered nearly 240 letters between Snyder and Berry, written since 1973, when the two began corresponding, Snyder (Back on the Fire: Essays, 2007, etc.) writing from his home in Nevada City, Calif., and Berry from Port Royal, Ky. Recurring themes include environmentalism, reflections on spirituality and the authors’ efforts to effect social change: “living at peace is a difficult, deceptive concept,” Berry wrote to Snyder in 1978. “Same for resisting evil. You can struggle, embattle yourself, resist evil until you become evil….And I see with considerable sorrow that I am not going to get done fighting and live at peace in anything like the simple way I thought I would.” Snyder saw the battle not against evil, but rather “ignorance, stupidity, narrow views [and] simple-minded egotism” and urged Berry not to fear “becoming tainted by ‘evil’ because that’s not really what you’re up against.” While Snyder practices Zen Buddhism, Berry calls himself a “forest Christian”; both are concerned with the “connection between enlightenment and householding.” Although Berry admitted “joyful relief” in their convergence of ideas about ecology, at times they differed. For example, when Snyder wrote enthusiastically about biologists’ work “to make cereals capable of fixing nitrogen like legumes do, saving 17 billion dollars a year in fertilizer worldwide,” Berry responded with alarm about “the science of genetic manipulation.” It may be good for farming, he conceded, but he worried that it would intensify agribusiness. The two writers have been attentive readers of each other’s work, and those critiques and the writer’s responses, are among the most interesting letters. Wriglesworth provides helpful information where needed, but annotations, relegated to endnotes, would be more useful as footnotes to each letter.

Candid, introspective and often deeply philosophical, these letters offer intimate glimpses into the lives and minds of two influential contemporary writers.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61902-305-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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