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A World Lost

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  566 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
"Brilliantly detailed characters and subtle social observations distinguish Berry's unassuming but powerful fifth novel....This is simple, soul-satisfying storytelling". Publishers Weekly

"An elegiac celebration of the end of innocence....A sharp portrait of a small farming town nursing its secrets over several decades". Kirkus Reviews

Andy Catlett is nine years old when his

Hardcover, 151 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Counterpoint (first published 1996)
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Jul 01, 2012 Les rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Les by: Wendell Berry's Books
Yet another brilliant Wendell Berry novel. I will be reading many more.

I have said this before, but Berry does not employ literary pyrotechnics, He does not need them. His style is graceful, lovely, filled with hope and yet infused with a melancholy that is realistic and sometimes even heartbreaking. His characters are among the richest I have ever read. They are people you wish you knew, but knowing that they exist in his pages is enough to comfort you that they could truly exist in this world.
Jun 10, 2012 Gloria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Mr. Wendell Berry. How is it you possess the ability to transport a reader to a different time and place through every sense imaginable? The humid warmth of a southern day, the coolness of pond water on a boy's skin as he takes a forbidden swim, the buzz and hum of the summer's insects.
If this weren't enough, you make us inhabit his every thought.

This story made me wish I'd been born a boy.
Before you jump to strange conclusions, let me explain. Girls often drape themselves in their mother's
Apr 23, 2012 Callie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do love Wendell Berry. Simple, eloquent, quiet, measured, wise. He's very good at understanding human nature and his mind is original. There is no one else like him.

"I learned that all human stories in this world contain many lost or unwritten or unreadable or unwritable pages and that the truth about us, though it must exist though it must lie all around us everyday, is mostly hidden from us, like birds' nests in the woods."

"In that time of grief and discouragement and defeat--it comes clear
Carl R.
May 07, 2012 Carl R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wendell breaks a lot of MFA rules, which is only one of the reasons I love him and his writing. A World Lost is set, as usual for Berry, in the northeastern Kentucky area of Port William (Now Carrollton) which has become Berry country among those who know and admire this unique author’s work. A World Lost has the flavor of a memoir because the voice of Andy Catlett is so strong, authentic, redolent with experience. There I go, breaking one of the MFA rules right along with Wendell--stringing th ...more
Sep 12, 2010 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, why did I not read every Wendell Berry book I could when I was first
introduced to his writings a few years ago? This would have been a good beginning book to the continuing characters in Port William, a small town and farm community in Kentucky. This book is set in the summer of 1944 and narrated by Andy Cartlett, nine at the time. Andy gains insight into the lives of his parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends. (grandfather) "He was a comforting man to be with. Perhaps that was enough
Jun 19, 2009 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book a 3 because even though it's a short book, I felt like it could have ended sooner. I got what I wanted out of it in the first half. That said, I enjoyed this book for what it was. There were simple phrases and witty remarks that made me laugh out loud, you don't hear this kind of stuff in this day and age. For example: Spoiler: There's a part where his Grandma puts a pillow of feathers over the phone to insulate it during the storms from lightning (takes place in 1940's in the b ...more
Megan Adams
Jun 08, 2015 Megan Adams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: appalachia
I loved this book. Berry's insights and his eloquence always inspires. In this novel, I particularly appreciate the way he weaves thoughts on life, death, and the interconnectedness of every living being. One of my favorite passages:

“Perhaps it was from thinking about him after his death, discovering how much I remembered and how little I knew, that I learned that all human stories in this world contain many lost or unwritten or unreadable or unwritable pages and that the truth about us, though
May 05, 2014 Northpapers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, memory and identity have been ideas that appeared in many of my readings in this season of my life. A child's perception can't be reclaimed. It can only be recalled and explored, and the truth of adulthood is that we must challenge those concepts we held most dear as children.

When young Andy Catlett loses his uncle to gun violence, a world he inhabited was lost to him. The story of his lifelong recalling and reimagining of that world is the subject of this rich novella.

A few fri
Jan 09, 2015 Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie Powell
Mar 13, 2011 Katie Powell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m hooked up to Wifi, typing this review at our local Wegman’s supermarket/eatery/lounge… my husband Jeremy is sitting beside me reading A World Lost and he’s laughing.

“Why are you laughing?” I keep asking him. Wendell Berry’s A World Lost begins with a death, a murder.

But Jeremy is right, Berry’s 104 page novella about the death of Andrew Catlett—beloved uncle, brother, husband, drifter, drinker, dancer, and farmer—in Port William, Kentucky, 1944 is as funny as it is sad and mournful.

A World L
Aug 18, 2015 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was again delighted with a Wendell Berry novel. I was moved to tears in Hannah Coulter and gripped by this tender story of a young boy dealing with the death of his beloved uncle. The story travels through the years of his life as he tries to come terms with this tragic death. Again, the story deals with the depth of love in a family and in the rural culture of the setting. Loved it!
Feb 07, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Wendell Berry...again. This is a short novel about Andy Catlett and his Uncle Andrew, a rather profligate drunkard who is murdered in the opening pages of the book. Andy remembers and tries to understand his uncle and figure out why he was really murdered and in the process learns about himself, his family, especially his father, his love for the land, acceptance, loyalty, and more. This is my favorite quote from the book:

"Finally you must believe as your heart instructs. If you are a gos
i think this is the most beautiful book i have ever read. quiet, gentle, humble, periodically painfully sad. It is exquisite, intimate and gracious. A vivid movie of a way of life long gone, 'a world lost'. It is a heritage so many of us have within our families, within our bones, yet is unrecognized by most people born after the 60's.. maybe even those born after the 50's. And we as Americans have missed something vital and beautiful about our lost history if we have not read this book. I know ...more
May 22, 2016 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect in its simplicity.
Jun 21, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the world seems to spinning hopelessly out of control, either by my own doing or by the doings of everyone else, I know it's time to read a Wendell Berry book. Whether it's a collection of his poems, a collection of his essays prophetically laying out the problems of our modern and civilized times, or, in this case, a Port William novel, he writes in a way that soothes my soul.

The Port William novels are a collection of stories from a small farming town in Kentucky. The stories cross the fi
Jul 22, 2015 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remembering for me, was first of the novels, followed by A World Lost simply because of choice. Andy Catlett is the protagonist in both which proved most helpful. It helped to string together this boy becoming man and facing tragedy. His approaching adulthood seemed to be equally powerful in both books. It was such a relief reading into his old age with both the murder and the tragic lost of his right hand to know that he was living with the quote from the flyleaf, "The dead rise and walk about ...more
Kirsten Eisele
I love Wendell Berry's nonfiction -- all his collections of essays are brilliant and inspiring -- and I love his poetry. But I think I have to face cold, hard facts: I do not like his fiction. It makes me sad! Especially since I am currently pregnant with a son who will be christened Wendell, in honor of how much I love Berry, whose non-fiction has inspired me to live more simply and strive for a close relationship with my land and livestock.

This is my third Berry fiction book and none of the th
Mar 06, 2016 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A senseless tragedy kicks off this beautiful novel. Written as a memoir, the narrator/author let’s us into the lives of the people of Port William as he tries to make sense of the murder of his sometimes hell-raising uncle Andrew. After the initial shock of Uncle Andrew’s violent death, little else is said about the incident until we near the end of the story. Instead we learn about the lives of the people of this close-knit community. It is young Andy’s friends and relatives, and friends of rel ...more
May 12, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, oh, oh, I love Wendell Berry.

This is a short book about a little boy and the violent death of his uncle, but it is a profound study of human hearts, human loves, and all the little choices we make that so form the stories of everyone around us.

Also, such a sense of place, as always, pervades W.B.'s stories.
Jun 15, 2015 Merrill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book a young boy recalls the time when he was nine or ten years old and an uncle (One who has the same name as his) is murdered. He struggles with understanding his uncle's character and dealing with the grief experienced by his whole family. He never quite resolves all his questions regarding his uncle but learns much of the story ans the book progresses.
I really enjoyed reading this short book by Berry It is typical of Berry's fiction. Although I tend to prefer fiction a little stronge
William Kriner
Nov 23, 2015 William Kriner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The story of Andrew Catlett as told through the eyes of his nephew and namesake Andy Catlett. A wonderful reminder of why young people need to inquire more about their elders so as life proceeds, there is always wonder about the actual character of an elder. The elder Andrew was different from the rest of his family and was a wild and troubled person. He was murdered; why and how did it happen; was it the logical conclusion of Andrew's life or an unfortunate, unforeseeable action? The book's tit ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Fredric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never read or heard a more powerful affirmation of faith than the last few paragraphs of this book. Elegant writing coupled with profound insight is on every page.

Writers and readers talk about accurate portrayals of complex characters but are obliged to acknowledge that the best drawn fictional character is only a shadow of the true complexity of a real human being. Berry admits this in his depictions of his characters. Nonetheless, he does the best job of any writer I've experienced in
Jan 14, 2015 Conrad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wendell Berry is a masterful storyteller. His stories ring with authenticity, his characters are full of all the nuances of real people and his intimate knowledge of the land brings Port William to life. One might be led to believe that he is writing autobiographically. In 'A World Lost' he delves into the effects of the murder of Andy Catlett's uncle and namesake on the rest of the family. There's nothing sensational about it - just a deep personal tragedy for one family that reverberates down ...more
Jeffrey Bumiller
Dec 10, 2013 Jeffrey Bumiller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a gorgeous book. Wendell Berry's writing is so natural and true, filled with beauty and sadness so entwined as to be inseparable. This the story of a boy who grows up spending a large part of his life contemplating the death of a close relative. It immediately reminded me of Peter Matthiessen's epic novel Shadow Country. Anyone that knows me, understands that that is an enormous compliment. My only complaint about this book is that it is too short. I wanted to stay with these characters ...more
Aug 16, 2013 Logan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the title suggests, A World Lost is a story of life come and gone, told with the reminiscent, soothing voice of a man reflecting on his childhood in the farmlands of Kentucky. The lovely style, though, is also what prevented me from connecting deeply with the book. It's as if a soft, forlorn vignette is dropped over the entire scene adding warmth and welcoming, but, I think, at the cost of sharpness and any sense of dramatic immediacy. Even the tragic and mysterious death of Uncle Andrew feel ...more
Jul 07, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful tale of Andy Catlett "jr's" life with and without his Uncle Andy Catlett. Berry ends this novel with thought-provoking musings on the nature of life, light and love.

"A story, I see, is not a life. A story must follow a line; the telling must begin and end. A life, on the contrary, would be impossible to fix in time, for it does not begin within itself, and it does not end...the dead remain in thought as much alive as they ever were, and yet increased in stature and grown remarkably n
Deb W
Jan 23, 2016 Deb W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zune
Wendell reminds the reader of the 40s when life was simple, and bad things still happened, but they were contained by good people, and their memories remain with us.

I still remember my good people from the 40s, and though they are departed they still live within me today. :)
Jun 28, 2014 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is my first Wendell Berry book. The pace of the novel was slow, but that allowed me to connect with the characters and the way the protagonist told the story after reflecting on the murder of his uncle four decades earlier. Berry's style and insights are wonderful. I can't wait to read more of his work.
Jan 19, 2015 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book at the wrong time. I think it could probably be very poignant but due to life-circumstances I couldn't really bring myself to fully engage in this book. I wish I could have done it the justice it deserved.
Andrew Williamson
Sep 10, 2015 Andrew Williamson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it. I read it because I saw him referenced by several in the local/sustainable movement as well as some other prominent authors. I feel I need to read a few more of his books to get a better feel.
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Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet. He was born August 5, 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky where he now lives on a farm. The New York Times has called Berry the "prophet of rural America."
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“I imagine the dead waking, dazed, into a shadowless light in which they know themselves altogether for the first time. It is a light that is merciless until they can accept its mercy; by it they are at once condemned and redeemed. It is Hell until it is Heaven. Seeing themselves in that light, if they are willing, they see how far they have failed the only justice of loving one another; it punishes them by their own judgment. And yet, in suffering that light's awful clarity, in seeing themselves in it, they see its forgiveness and its beauty, and are consoled. In it they are loved completely, even as they have been, and so are changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be.” 19 likes
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