After years of feeling “existentially adrift about the future of the planet”, New Yorker staff writer Amanda Petrusich penned a letter to Wendell Berry and began a dialogue that resulted in this deeply wise and arresting interview, a small feast of wisdom about limitation, the meaning of neighborliness, “the evident parallel between the treatment of women and the treatment of the land”, and marriage. A preview:
When love comes round, it doesn’t always come and stay with the purpose of making you happy. As I see it, when we marry we give up romance by submitting love to the limits of mortality. The traditional vows seize love by the scruff of the neck and set it down in real life, in the real world.
Acclaimed for his essays, poetry, and fiction, Berry is one of America’s finest writers and is often considered a prophet of the modern environmental movement. True to form, however, Berry would dislike the words “environmental” and “movement” for their reductiveness. Check out the interview to see why and to get acquainted with the refreshing coherence of his vision.
Read “Going Home with Wendell Berry” at The New Yorker. For more from Wendell Berry, start with his 1972 classic The Unsettling of America for essays, Hannah Coulter for fiction, or A Timbered Choir for poetry.