On this week’s special episode, celebrating books that “illuminate the power and meaning of work,” Ellyn Gaydos joins us to discuss Pig Years (Knopf, June 14), a memoir of four years’ worth of work as a seasonal hand on small farms in New York and Vermont.
Gaydos has been jobbing since the age of 18: operating tractors, preparing the earth for seeding, harvesting vegetables, tending and slaughtering livestock, and finding her place within the ecosystems of the farms she serves. She has also habitually performed another type of work—countless hours of observation, notation, and revision needed to write about rural communities with insight and care. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, and a winner of the Richard J. Margolis Award for nonfiction writers of social justice journalism. Her work has appeared in The Texas Review, Columbia Journal, and Ninth Letter.
Here’s a bit more from our review of Pig Years: “Gaydos describes the realities of farm life with honest precision, neither indulging in unnecessary dramatizing nor shying away from the numerous harsh realities….The most affecting passages focus on the people the author met in the communities where she has lived….Lyrical and cleareyed insight into farming from a writer devoted to both crafts.”
Gaydos and host Megan Labrise discuss what she does for work; Gaydos’ first farm job, and a bit about the types of farms she’s worked on; the first piece of writing she published; how Pig Years began as a collection of notes on pigs; Gaydos’ writing process; the different vocabularies one may use for speaking and writing; how you know when the day’s work is done, in farming versus in writing; and much more.
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