‘Fly Away, Breath’ by Wendell Berry

Fly Away, Breath by Wendell Berry, 2008

The magic trick:

A perfect introduction section 

The introductory section to this story is perfect. It frames what turns out to be a memory of a memory of a memory, more than 100 years in the making. The narrator, now an old man, is thinking back to his grandmother’s grandmother. And the introduction that lasts a little bit more than a page sets up this lineage of shared memory and nostalgia so perfectly, it almost doesn’t matter what follows in the meat of the story. The setup is so good, you almost don’t need to read on.

And that’s quite a trick on Berry’s part.

The selection:

Andy Catlett keeps in his mind a map of the country around Port William as he has known it all his life and as he has been told about it all his life from times and lives before his. There are moments, now that he is getting old, when he seems to reside in that country in his mind even as his mind still resides in the country.

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