My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a review book from Amazon Vine.
I hadn’t heard of this author but was casting around for something different to read. The idea of reading someone’s collected essays about life on a farm in upstate New York sounded just the thing, almost like an adult version of the Laura Ingalls Wilder tales I always loved as a child.
It was definitely the right choice as I have been enchanted by the beauty of Verlyn Klinkenborg’s prose, the strength of his understanding of nature and animals, and in the vivid images which make me feel as if I am there in the country. Truly, this description of the book is not overstating the case:
Klinkenborg’s pieces are admired as much for their poetic writing as for their insight: peonies are “the sheepdog of flowers,” dry snow “tumbles off the angled end of the plow-blade as if each crystal were completely independent, almost charged with static electricity,” and land is most valuable “for its silence, its freedom from language.” Klinkenborg writes with a grace and understanding that makes us more aware of the world around us, whether we live on a farm or in the middle of a city.
It is almost as good as taking a vacation. I find myself deliberately slowing down, savoring the writing, and simply relaxing.
There is a section in the middle of the book called Interludes wherein are included more direct commentary on subjects like genetically engineered crops, big farming, and so forth. I read the first couple but, frankly, I found nothing that I hadn’t picked up already in the more lyrical journal style writing from the rest of the book. One may agree with him or not in these more opinionated pieces and I found that about 90% of the time I did agree. As I say, I lost nothing in briefly skimming most of them and moving on. The other essays which make up most of the book are more thoughtful and reflective and naturally tied to the land. Therefore, I found these pointed pieces to be overkill. Your milage may vary. The pointed pieces cost the book one star from me.
Despite the Interlude, this book is a rare find for me and one that I will enjoy rereading over the years.