cover image The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry

The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry

Edited by Paul Kingsnorth. Counterpoint, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-1-64009-028-6

Berry’s graceful essays have long been models of eloquence, insight, and conviction, as Kingsnorth’s selection of some of his most important pieces reminds readers. Berry’s writings traverse topics from agriculture to economics, but always circle back to the values of a small, local economy and to the wastefulness fostered by corporate greed. In a 2011 speech, Berry proclaims, “Our fundamental problem is world destruction, caused by an irreconcilable contradiction between the natural world and the engineered world of industrialism.” In “The Total Economy,” Berry names neighborhood and subsistence the main features of a local economy. In one of his most famous essays, 1989’s “The Pleasures of Eating,” he declares eating “inescapably an agricultural act” and proposes seven ways of eating responsibly—e.g., “participate in food production to the extent that you can” and “learn the origins of the food you buy, and buy the food that is produced closest to your home”—that look ahead to today’s local food movement. Since all of these essays are readily available elsewhere, Berry’s fans won’t find anything new, but newcomers will find the works exceptionally timely, and the book as a whole a thoughtful introduction to Berry’s writing. [em](May) [/em]

Correction: A previous version of this review misspelled the last name of the book's editor.