cover image How It Went: Thirteen Late Stories of the Port William Membership

How It Went: Thirteen Late Stories of the Port William Membership

Wendell Berry. Counterpoint, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-64009-581-6

Berry (The Peace of Wild Things) offers more stories of Port William, Ky., and his frequent protagonist Andy Catlett in this expansive collection, tracing Port William’s transition from a relatively bucolic village in the 1930s to its present-day factory farms. “Time Out of Time” follows a young Andy as he spends an afternoon pursuing a squirrel through the branches of a giant tree—part of a forest that, the older Andy ruefully notes, will later be cut to the ground. “The Great Interruption” starts as a joke about a teenager in the 1930s falling out of a tree, thereby interrupting an illicit rendezvous, and then expands outward into a pensive consideration of the importance of storytelling in a community, and the impact of its loss. “Dismemberment” revolves around a more personal loss, when Andy, a 40-year-old farmer in 1974, loses his right hand to a harvesting machine and then, over the decades, comes to terms with the help of a close friend and others. Berry’s humanity and clear-eyed intelligence steer the stories away from simple nostalgia and into a thoughtful analysis of how communities inevitably change over time. This accomplished author still has much to offer. (Nov.)