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Andy Catlett: Early Travels

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  889 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
Berry opens this latest installment of the Port William series with young Andy Catlett preparing to visit a place he'd been to many times before, though this would be an adventure he will take very seriously. Nine years old, Andy embarks on the trip by bus, alone for the first time. He decides it will be a rite of passage and his first step into manhood. Sometimes a handfu ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published November 9th 2006 by Counterpoint
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Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
"… knowledge grows with age, and gratitude grows with knowledge."

Once upon a time, nine year old Andy Catlett boarded a bus all alone to visit his two sets of grandparents in Port William, Kentucky, a mere ten miles from his own home. However, to a young, impressionable boy this was a momentous undertaking… "it was nothing less than my first step into manhood." With the passing of nearly sixty years and the wisdom of age, Andy recounts that journey after the Christmas of 1943. This story is sere
Diane Barnes
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Time travel is a real thing you know. All you have to do is open the pages of a book, and it's the portal to anywhere and time you wish to go. In this case, it's 1943 Kentucky, the village of Port William, to be exact, and we travel there with 9 year old Andy Catlett, who takes his first bus trip alone to visit both sets of grandparents in the days after Christmas. It's just a matter of 10 miles up the road, but to him it's a voyage of independence.

WWII is blazing in Europe, but other than short
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
An older Andy Catlett is looking back to a trip he made alone by bus in 1943, during his Christmas break, to visit his two sets of grandparents. It's a quiet, gentle book with lots of observations about a simpler way of life. The grandparents of nine-year-old Andy lived on farms doing hard physical work, and possessed survival skills that most of us do not have today. He remembers their kindness as they showed him how to work around the farm.

Many of the characters from Wendell Berry's other book
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you haven't read Wendell Berry, I highly suggest that be one of your reading goals for 2018. He never disappoints with his descriptions of a more simplistic life.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Simple book, sweet. Seen through peaceful childhood's eyes. And they are travels that Wendell accomplished.

This brought back a lot of memories, although most could not be more different than Port Williams' surrounds. But especially detail minutia memories, like the ice man coming to bring in the huge cubes. We had that at the store until way past 1950. And the times with grandparents, and taking the bus "alone" etc. Wendell Berry is about 15 years older than I am but some of the comparisons to h
Jan 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Another piece in the Port William puzzle, this book describes Andy's trips to visit his grandparents at the age of nine, but written through the lens of time and age, when he is much older. The characters you learn about in Berry's other books are seen through a child's eyes, which always puts a fun, new spin on things. Some quotes I loved:

Speaking of his Grandpa, "I knew that when he was studying he was thinking, but I did not know what about. Now I have aged into knowledge of what he thought a
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julie  Durnell
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by this book as I had read one of Wendell Berry's books some time ago, Jayber Crow, and didn't care for it at all. Andy's solo bus trip to visit both sets of grandparents at the holidays was a treat to read of a nostalgic time and place in his memories as a boy of nine. His relationships with family, friends and neighbors were written with the fresh innocent eyes of a young boy. I didn't quite make the On The Southern Literary Trail group read for December with this bu ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was so lovely and comfortable to be with Andy and his family in a quiet time at the beginning of WWII, when life was a simpler thing, and people expected to work hard and eat the fruits of their labor.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just as you would expect Mr. Berry to be.

It's beautiful.
Brian Tucker
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful conclusion to my experience with Berry's longer prose. Here are a few quotes:

Increasingly over the last maybe forty years, the thoughts has come to me that the old world in which our people lived by the work of their hands, close to weather and earth, plants and animals, was the true world; and that the new world of cheap energy and ever cheaper money, honored greed, and dreams of liberation from every restraint, is mostly theater. This new world seems a jumble of scenery and props nev
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
“And now, as often before, I am reminded how grateful I am to have been there, in that that time, with those I have remembered.”

Andy Catlett: Early Travels is a book that has a simple and nostalgic quality, where Andy brings forth memories and remembrances from his early childhood and, specifically, his trip he takes alone to visit relatives. Oftentimes through the lens of our youth, we understand how important time, people and events are, and Berry captures this in fine form.

In many ways, thi
Dan Gobble
Wendell's character Andy bears witness to massive change and upheaval in American culture and society over the course of his entire life. This novel focuses on the conditions just prior to the end of WW II, and sets the stage for the modernization of American. Andy, as a small child visiting his grandparents' farms, was already living with one foot in the pre-modern and the modern worlds. In a voice that's looking back, he realizes his innocence and how radically we threw the baby out with the b ...more
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A young boy journeys out into the world by himself for the first time. Never mind that he is only going from Hargrave where he lives, to the next town, Port William, to stay with his grandparents. He is venturing out by himself, and we get to share in the adventure. We get to experience his feelings of belonging to the community in which he is immersed. We get to savor the bountiful table enjoyed by these simple people at a time when the country was wracked by war and rationing was a reality. We ...more
Sep 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rural-fiction
Have never been disappointed with Berry's fiction. In this short novel, Andy Catlett is nine or ten years old, traveling for three days by himself - for the first time - to visit both sets of grandparents on their respective farms.

He is reflecting on this experience as an older man, and thus the various characters and daily routines on the farms are observed with detail that suggests a second level of depth. Par for Wendell Berry.

Bottom line, this and pretty much all Berry fiction finds me desi
Eric North
Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it
This book, like all of Berry's work, was peaceful and enjoyable. Some good descriptive words that come to mind are open space, silence, wonder, heritage, etc. The short novel is rich, full of detail, and representative of a child's-eye view of visits to Grandparents' homes. Andy Catlett's Early Travels is interesting to me, but only as part of Berry's works as a whole, complimented by references to Old Jack Beechum, Burly Coulter, and Jayber Crow. Another good facet of life in Port William.
Barbara Cook
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Never disappointed by Berry. Andy, at nine yrs old, visits his grandparents alone and really begins to grow up. Again, beautifully written!
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-lit, fiction
A very pleasant Berry read.
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Nobody does the warm glow of the good ol’ days like Wendell Berry.
Andy Catlett has always been something of a contradiction - a hard worker who often wanders away on his thoughts and dreams, a good boy who gets into more than his share of trouble.
In his early travels, Andy looks back to the time in 1943 when he went off on a grand adventure - a 10 mile solo bus ride. First he spends a couple of days on his Catlett grandparents’ tobacco farm near Port William, a "sun-powered world of horse and m
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful little novella in which an elderly Andy Catlett remembers his first solo bus trip at age 9 to Port William to visit his Catlett and Feltzer grandparents during winter break. This was the year before several very significant deaths would teach him about life, death, loss, and continuity, but it was on this trip that he felt a sense of belonging in the Port William membership and a significance to each life and love that was to prepare him to deal with the grief and adjustments ...more
James Buscher
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
This short addition to the Port William stories follows nine-year-old Andy Catlett on a short trip just before 1943 tips over into 1944. It's a simple story, in that not a whole lot happens, but, as with most of Wendell Berry's writing, things don't necessarily need to happen. This is another glimpse into the place of Port William, as occupied by the people of Port William. Sometimes while reading this novel I wondered where it was going, but then on the final page, it all culminated in a beauti ...more
Dana Blondo
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This was my first Wendell Berry book. I really did love his writing style--there were a few times I went back and reread the way he wrote something because it was just stunning. I gave this 3 stars because it was difficult for me to pick up and finish regardless of the language. This is obviously not plot-driven and for that, it was harder for me. However, I'm so glad to have read it and I plan on continuing with Wendell Berry in "Hannah Coulter" because that seems to be a favorite with most Ber ...more
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Wendell Berry has a beautiful voice, and that on its own was enough for me to enjoy this book. However, I can't say I would recommend it, as this felt more like it was meant to be a companion piece to his other novels, rather than a story on its own.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I like love Berry, but with all the problems in the world today I didn't find as much peace in this as I had hoped.
Hilary Forrest
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book more so because I read Hannah Coulter first. Had I not read Hannah, I likely wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wendell Berry moves seamlessly between past and present, childhood memories and adult reflections. This book was a wonderful way to wander back into the Port William stories I read years ago.
Christine Eaton
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though it was short, it was just as inviting as Berry's other books as I entered back into the town and people of Port William.
Allen Browning
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mr. Berry is always a joy to read.
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas
Wendell Berry...of course it's good.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wendell-berry
LOVE. Simplicity is beauty.
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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."
More about Wendell Berry

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“[My grandfather] returned to what he called ‘studying.’ He sat looking down at his lap, his left hand idle on the chair arm, his right scratching his head, his white hair gleaming in the lamplight. I knew that when he was studying he was thinking, but I did not know what about. Now I have aged into knowledge of what he thought about. He thought of his strength and endurance when he was young, his merriment and joy, and how his life’s burdens had then grown upon him. He thought of that arc of country that centered upon Port William as he first had known it in the years just after the Civil War, and as it had changed, and as it had become; and how all that time, which would have seemed almost forever when he was a boy, now seemed hardly anytime at all. He thought of the people he remembered, now dead, and of those who had come and gone before his knowledge, and of those who would come after, and of his own place in that long procession.” 8 likes
“…For many years now, that way of living has been scorned, and over the last 40 or 50 years it has nearly disappeared. Even so, there was nothing wrong with it. It was an economy directly founded on the land, on the power of the sun, on thrift and skill and on the people’s competence to take care of themselves. They had become dependent to some extent on manufactured goods, but as long as they stayed on their farms and made use of the great knowledge that they possessed, they could have survived foreseeable calamities that their less resourceful descendants could not survive. Now that we have come to the end of the era of cheap petroleum which fostered so great a forgetfulness, I see that we could have continued that thrifty old life fairly comfortably – could even have improved it. Now, we will have to return to it, or to a life necessarily as careful, and we will do so only uncomfortably and with much distress. Increasingly over the last maybe forty years, the thought has come to me that the old world, in which our people lived by the work of their hands, close to weather and earth, plants and animals, was the true world. And that the new world of cheap energy and ever cheaper money, honored greed and dreams of liberation from every restraint, is mostly theater. This new world seems a jumble of scenery and props never quite believable. An economy of fantasies and moods, in which it is hard to remember either the timely world of nature, or the eternal world of the prophets and poets. And I fear, I believe I know, that the doom of the older world I knew as a boy will finally afflict the new one that replaced it. The world I knew as a boy was flawed surely, but it was substantial and authentic. The households of my grandparents seemed to breathe forth a sense of the real cost and worth of things. Whatever came, came by somebody’s work.” 5 likes
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