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The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry

Off-kilter New Zealand indie rock meets fuzzed-out psych-pop on this wonky and charming debut LP. Wntr Snds by Haley. Adventurous EP that embodies the sound of winter through crackly old piano and hope-filled songs. Out Of Hands We Go by o'death. Banjo-wielding indie folk outfit drop their fourth full-length studio album of broody ballads and barroom stompers. Night Owl Sessions by Shakey Graves. Two tracks from Shakey Graves' forthcoming Dualtone release suggests a bigger, more anthemic sound for the Americana musician.

An official release of two long-sought-after EPs from Shakey Graves, packed with rarities and home recordings. Artist of the Week: Wicked Loneliness by OldJack. Wendell Berry ha generato un'altra Grande Anima. Jan 22, Diana rated it it was amazing. Read it carefully and within a few days' time. Don't miss it if you value land, relationships, reflection, drama. Dec 08, Mark rated it it was amazing Shelves: I believe this to be one of Wendell Berry's finest.

In it, he recounts the memories of an old man at the end of a long and eventful life. A man who spanned a good bit of the history of the fictional community of Port William, Kentucky. As he remembers or greets different characters, he remembers some story about that character and each one comes alive for those few, brief pages it takes to recount the tale. I cried at the end, but they were tears of recognition of a life well-lived. Dec 17, Sarah rated it really liked it Shelves: Wendell Berry's writing is so beautiful and elegiac, it makes my heart hurt.

In a good way. Apr 06, Sylvester rated it really liked it Shelves: I was realizing as I read this book how few novels slow my thoughts down and make me reflect. Most either speed it up or don't affect it at all. And yet the ones that slow me down have stayed with me in a way that others haven't. Why do so few authors try this approach? I could use a lot more pauses for thought. I could use a lot more sit-with-it thinking. And what a strange book this is. The memories of an old man.

A man who failed in so many ways. Going over what was good in his life and in th I was realizing as I read this book how few novels slow my thoughts down and make me reflect. Going over what was good in his life and in the people around him, thinking it through and coming to more questions and only one or two certainties, and making peace with all these. Berry is one of those writers bearing witness the end of a way of life.

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I don't know of any death as poignant as that of the small family farm. Old Jack's love of the land, his dedication to caring for it as it cares for him, his brotherhood of neighbouring farmers who alone understand his deep feeling for the relationship between man and nature, the patience and long planning that it takes to succeed.

His dislike for the speed of life in the towns, the instancy of it, the lack of roots and insight the people even his daughter show. He is almost bitter about this. As for why anyone should be interested in a book of an old farmer's memories, I'd say because Jack is so clearly asking us to evaluate our lives according to the long view, to put our effort into something that gives back - to work with hope, as he says, and yet not define ourselves by what we do or who we imagine we are, but by what we serve.

To look at his failure to connect with his family and learn from him not to allow disappointed expectations and pride and work to get in the way of love. This is a thoughtful book - I'd put it right up alongside Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead" for resonance and depth. Aug 16, Sharon rated it really liked it Shelves: Ruth too was misled, by him, by his foolish willingness to win her by indulging her misconceptions. Jan 12, Cathy rated it really liked it.

Full of himself, confident and cocky as a young man, Jack belongs to a farming community where families and neighbors work side by side to plant the fields, raise a barn or harvest the annual tobacco crop. Confusing lust with love, Jack plucks from a distant town a wife, Ruth, taking her into a marriage doomed by misunderstanding to leave both lonely and alone for all the years they share the farm house. You can't help but sympathize with both of them even as their walls grow thicker by the day, Full of himself, confident and cocky as a young man, Jack belongs to a farming community where families and neighbors work side by side to plant the fields, raise a barn or harvest the annual tobacco crop.

You can't help but sympathize with both of them even as their walls grow thicker by the day, until they no longer share a bedroom or even meals.

Publicly they're a couple, privately they're strangers. We are introduced to Jack as a very old man who spends his days lost in memories of days on the farm, his marriage to Ruth and his times of both glory and suffering. Wendell Berry's slowly but surely paints a tender portrait of a very fallible human being. Even when you want to strangle him for his arrogance you can't help but forgive him for his humanity. Another beautiful book by one of my favorite authors, an eloquent writing surrounding Jack who in his old age reminisces about his life, in particular his marriage.

There is a common thread that explores not only marriage but relationships in general which also includes the relationship of these people to the land. Apr 29, Kathryn Bashaar rated it really liked it. This book is the story of Jack Beechum's last day on earth, and the story of his whole life. Over the course of his last day, year-old Jack drifts back and forth between keen observation of the present and even keener memories of the key events of his long life.

His first memory is of watching his much-older brothers leave to fight in the American Civil War. They will not return. And that is only the first of the heartbreaks that Jack will endure. But overall Jack is fortunate. He is strong a This book is the story of Jack Beechum's last day on earth, and the story of his whole life.

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He is strong and handsome, with natural grace. And he is a born farmer. Jack exemplifies the term "husbandry" in the sense that he is devoted to his land and cares for it tenderly, and causes it to bear fruit. His marriage and his only child disappoint him.

His work is hard, and he makes one serious judgment error that jeopardizes everything that he has worked for. But his fierce independence and self-reliance, and his love of his land, sustain him, and he grows in wisdom as he ages.

Wicked Loneliness

Wendell Berry is generally a leftist writer, but I found this book to be profoundly conservative in the old-fashioned sense of the term. It portrays a way of life based on self-reliance and community spirit. The government is nowhere to be found. If help is needed, a man looks to himself or to his close neighbors. Values are shared, and men know each other well enough to judge each other based on moral character, not on superficialities.

That world, of course, is long gone. Not everyone is born to be a farmer. Not everyone wants to live in one small community all his life. Small farms have given way to corporate agriculture.

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The beauty of this book made me sad about that. Check out my blog at http: Aug 29, Hannah Reeves rated it liked it. I'd probably give 3. Such a sad, painfully sad book. And it especially hurt the times it felt like a mirror being held up, seeing myself in different characters. It left me with much to think about life.

He is troubled and angered in his mind to think that people would aspire to do as little as possible, no better than they are made to do it, for more pay than they are worth, as if the old world were destroyed and a new one created by Gladston Pettit. Nov 20, Roxy rated it it was amazing. This poignant one tells how hard Jack worked for his land, to the exclusion of his family. It is another one to read slowly, and to savor the richness of his language and descriptions. Jan 22, Kathrine Holyoak rated it really liked it.

Reading Wendell Berry in January is comfort food that sticks to the ribs of my soul. I'm warmed by the steady grace he paints in a seemingly ordinary day or life. His heroes are those among us who aren't exceptional, just finishers who stay their course. The plot is no more or less than living true, which in itself is extraordinary. Feb 15, Jordi. The Memory of Old Jack is a two-part love story; a love affair with the land he lives and works on and the lost love in his failed marriage.

Berry is beautifully poetic in his description of Jack's deep connection to the land. Although I am not a farmer I have a deeper sense of appreciation for those that survive by their own hands, working hard sun up to sundown in their land in the midst of unpredictability and instant destruction by weather. Berry paints a clear picture of rural America and t The Memory of Old Jack is a two-part love story; a love affair with the land he lives and works on and the lost love in his failed marriage.

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Berry paints a clear picture of rural America and the values of small town living. Berry describes the broken marriage with beauty and accuracy that is frustrating, heartbreaking but also understandable. Jack fails to intimately and carefully love his wife while his wife fails to give Jack any acknowledgement of respect for him. God, in Ephesians 5, calls husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and wives to respect their husbands. Whether Berry intended to portray the failings of both parties in the Biblical sense, I do not know, but both are intricately woven throughout the novel.

Both Jack and his wife are too prideful to be the first to give what the other wants and were created to desire. Although it seems Jack was to blame for the failed marriage, both are guilty of withholding their God given role for marriage. Although this book is beautifully written and it helped me want to grow in showing my husband deep respect and appreciation, I wouldn't recommend it to most people.

Oct 09, Reid rated it liked it. Wendell Berry is a true poet of the land, and imparts its cadences to every word he puts to paper. What in another might be a maudlin seriousness is crafted by Berry into a heartfelt beauty. What might otherwise be taken as a pointless sentimentality for times and ways long past is transformed by his deep affection for and knowledge of his characters into the communication of a deep yearning for connection.

Those of us so thoroughly urbanized that such a connection to the land is purely theoreti Wendell Berry is a true poet of the land, and imparts its cadences to every word he puts to paper. Those of us so thoroughly urbanized that such a connection to the land is purely theoretical and largely romantic can nonetheless feel the urge, the deep need for such ties, and can realize in it a questing we all feel deep in our bones.

This is not an inherently compelling book, though, or the best of what Berry has written on the subject of the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. Jayber Crow and Nathan Coulter in particular are more accomplished novels, and contain a healthy dose of the wry humor which characterizes these later books and saves them from collapsing of their own seriousness.

But as an evocation of the values and rhythms which guide all of the Port William books, The Memory of Old Jack may be the finest of them all. Jun 22, John rated it it was amazing. Berry's poetic sensibilities really allow the prose to sing.


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There's a rhythm to the language that seems to follow the rhythms of natural things--seasons, rivers, harvests. Berry uses memory here in a couple of intertwining ways. On the one hand, the book follows the memories of "Old Jack" Beechum as he reflects back on the eight-plus decades of his life. While they build slowly, his courtship with Ruth and the episode with Will Wells take the book in surprising and heartfelt directions.

However, Berry's poetic sensibilities really allow the prose to sing. However, Berry also mixes in the experiences of others in the life of Old Jack, meaning that the book is in certain ways a culmination of their memories of him. In this, the book reads as something of a communal memory, showing us the roots of Port William that are about more than traditions and practices, but about relationships with people and the ways in which those people have contributed to their lives.

This is one of the great strengths of Berry's work--he understands the life of communities, how that life is passed on from one generation to the next, and how beautiful and fragile that life really is. Boh, non saprei dirvi! Per certo posso dire che: Per tutto il resto: Mar 03, Kate rated it it was amazing Recommended to Kate by: This is actually the second time I've read this book, which says a lot about how much this book means to me as I rarely re-read books.

This is one of my all-time favorite books, although it is probably not for everyone. I just read it with a book group this time, and we talked a bit about Wendell Berry's unique writing style. Suffice it to say, it's not for everyone. Everything he writes is like poetry, and as such some may find him a bit ponderous, maybe even opaque. Nonetheless, I think this b This is actually the second time I've read this book, which says a lot about how much this book means to me as I rarely re-read books. Nonetheless, I think this book is fascinating for its portrayal of one of the great themes in America, the tension between our Jeffersonian ideals and our lust for material culture.

It is also a poignant portrayal of a man at the end of his life, confronting death. Jan 27, April rated it it was amazing. This little book deals beautifully and gracefully with some of the biggest and most divisive issues in modern american society. It delves into those opposing forces of the "getting ahead" and the idea of a sense of place and the deep sense of unease many of us feel at ebing pulled between the two. I agree with a review that noted, the respect Berry gives both his subject and his reader, which makes reading him a singular pleasure. Aug 06, Mark rated it it was amazing Shelves: Once again, Wendell Berry knocks it out of the park.

With flawless insight and remarkable brevity, Berry touches on everything that is important in human life forgiveness, art, betrayal, family, love, work, loyalty, place, hope, redemption On top of that, this is just a lovely story. Read it and read it again. Aug 14, Jason rated it really liked it. One of Berry's earlier stories of his Port William tales, this follows the life of one, elderly man in early autumn of , as he recollects his life and yet is present in his now.

Beautiful story, with some hard edges to it, that reflects on a life that had happened, the rapidly way that life and lifestyle diminished, and yet with a glimmer of a humanity that burns deep. May 26, Betsy Alles rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Wendall Berry is delicious food for the soul. Simple, deep and brilliant. This is my second novel -- first was Jayber Crow.