Once again Berry introduces a pillar of Port William. A pillar who transcends the supercilious trends of culture and finds solidarity in the land, the rooted center in which the pains and joys of life are worked out simultaneously as the land is tilled. Hannah Coulter
tells the life of a woman bearing the weight of that land, the weight of war, and the weight of the living and the dead. Her life gives us a story of pervasive grief embroidered by hope: ''Love held us. Kindness held us. We were suffering what we were living by...but grief is not a force and has no power to hold. You only bear it. Love is what carries us.'' That love becomes tangible through the giving of the land. In stripping away the trivial, Hannah Coulter's life provides a model for Berry's philosophy, a life that not only praises simplicity, endurance, love, but sees it as the salvation from the deterioration induced by progress. Poignantly written, we are kindly given a journey that develops roots, then rises. 384 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
"Ignorant boys, killing each other," is just about all Nathan Coulter would tell his wife, friends, and family about the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. Life carried on for the community of Port William, Kentucky, as some boys returned from the war and the lives of others were mourned. In her seventies, Nathan's wife, Hannah, has time now to tell of the years since the war. In Wendell Berry's unforgettable prose, we learn of the Coulter's children, of the Feltners and Branches, and how survivors "live right on."