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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-11-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Henderson dedicates this years expansive and mostly impressive anthology to Wendell Berry, the Kentucky farmer, who despite being far from the centers of publishing and political power has reached an international audience with his poetry, fiction, criticism, essays and environmental activism. Pieces in the Berry tradition include fellow Kentuckian Chris Offutts emotionally nuanced essay, Trash Food, on class, food, race, and regional origin; Douglas W. Millikens incisive, stern short story, Blue of the World, about a grieving horse farmers slow estrangement from his son; and Jericho Browns potent, delicate poem, The Tradition, which yokes the names of flowers and the names of young black men killed by the police. Humankinds relationship to the natural world appears as a theme throughout, as in Liz Ziemskas rigorously imagined tale, The Mushroom Queen, of a restless wife who swaps bodies with a sentient network of mycelium and Cate Hennesseys family history, Beets, told through notes on the seasons and gardening. An emphasis on setting and place recurs as well. Kalpana Narayanans essay Dr. J considers the meaning of home in Atlanta, India, and Brooklyn. Cecily Parkss poem Hurricane Song elegantly observes the subtle shifts and motions of a forest before a hurricane. In a mild, unobtrusive way, the nonfiction trends personal, the fiction realist, and the poetry short, clear, and powerful. Stellar, distinctive entries from familiar namesDeb Olin Unferth, Lydia Davis, Elizabeth McCracken, Steve Almond, Barry Lopezcompensate for the handful of too-conventional ones. The collection succeeds as a broad yet cohesive array of excellent writing. (Nov.)