cover image What Are People For?: Essays

What Are People For?: Essays

Wendell Berry. North Point Press, $19.95 (210pp) ISBN 978-0-86547-420-8

Poet, novelist and critic Berry ( Remembering ) identifies himself as ``a farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts,'' thereby indicating the scope of these 22 prodding, opinionated pieces. He touches on literary subjects as well as agrarianism, environmentalism and other political issues, his splendid writing infusing each topic with his sense of its urgency. Wallace Stegner is esteemed as a regionalist who protects the integrity of his literary terrain, unlike the many who write ``exploitively, condescendingly, and contemptuously'' of their milieus; and Edward Abbey is praised because he ``does not simply submit to our criticism, as does any author who publishes; he virtually demands it.'' Shifting from art to farming in ``Economy and Pleasure,'' Berry notes that, ``More and more, we take for granted that work must be destitute of pleasure.'' In ``Waste,'' he calls our attitude toward garbage the ``symbiosis of an unlimited greed at the top and a lazy . . . consumptiveness at the bottom.'' And in the title essay, he wryly observes that agricultural economists say there are too many farmers--but not too many agricultural economists. (Apr.)