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Three Short Novels

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  216 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Furthering his series on the denizens of Port William, Three Short Novels brings together some of Wendell Berry's best-loved shorter novels--Nathan Coulter, Remembering, and A World Lost . When Nathan Coulter first appeared in 1960, no one could have known that this exquisite coming-of-age tale was introducing us to one of our most distinctive fictional communities: Port W ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 8th 2003 by Counterpoint (first published 2002)
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Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wendell Berry is one of my favorite authors. He is much into taking stewardship of the land, which I am also interested in. His book contains 3 short novels: Nathan Coulter, A World Lost (which I had previously reviewed) and Remembering. All three stay true to his views.

Nathan Coulter is a coming of age book about the Coulter family who have lived on the family farm for generations. Both Nathan's grandparents and his father see the necessity of taking care of the land and preserving it for futur
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 2017
It pains me to say this because Wendell Berry is one of my favorite authors, but I did not love this book. Even though the novels are short, it took me forever to finish this book because I kept avoiding it.
May 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
None of the stories in this book were very good. There were many inappropriate parts in these stories as well as many confusing places and parts that didn't make sense or fit in with the rest of the series. I have been very disappointed with this entire series so far and these stories were just as bad as the rest of the series.
Josh Skinner
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, port
Great introduction to Port William.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it

Nathan Coulter (1960)

I’m tempted to say not much happens in this novella. But I just wrote a review of Jayber Crow in which I proclaimed a person shouldn’t read Wendell Berry and look for plot. Still, while Berry’s token topics and style are present, there’s a shade less richness in Nathan Coulter than much of Berry’s other work. I attribute this to the fact that this novella was published in 1960: Berry had forty three more years of age and experience when he published Jayber Crow, as one examp
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
"Young Nathan, in Nathan Coulter, struggles to grow up and understand the value of land and family. With the death of his grandfather, Nathan sees that "his life couldn't be divided from the days he'd spent at work in his fields." In Remembering, it is 1976 and Andy Catlett is alone in San Francisco, walking the streets at dawn. In the eight months since losing his right hand to a corn-picking machine, he has also lost himself and his sense of place. Two thousand miles from home, he begins to re ...more
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first of these novels, Nathan Coulter, is (I think) Berry's first novel, written around 1960. The first books I read of his was written some forty years after this first one. So, he's refined his writing in a lot of ways since then and my four star rating is simply for that reason.

I really enjoyed these stories. It's amazing to me how powerful fiction can be. I have been wondering why a fictional farming community in Kentucky is so fascinating to me. Maybe it's because my grandmother on my
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
This collection of three related short stories is a charming read, focusing on farm-life in rural Kentucky and the people there who have farming in their blood. It is a patient set of stories that spring from a respect for the sanctity of everyday life and the beauty of simple pleasures like a drink of cold water on a hot day.
I had read Wendell Berry's essays, but never his fiction. I felt suspicious that it would be as good as his non-fiction, but I was entirely wrong. Berry's values as stated
Susan Emmet
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've long loved reading Berry's occasional essays in The Progressive and elsewhere, but ashamed to say I've not touched - and been touched by- his fiction until now.
Nathan Coulter, Remembering and A World Lost are a fine threesome, early and later works. The sense of time and place, of family and generations, of rootedness in a rootless world, of tradition and frugality amid all the consumer crap of now, of being quiet in order to know who you are and who you came from, the love of land and the
May 31, 2008 added it
I'm reading each short novel separately, putting the book down between stories, so this will move between currently-reading and to-read, so you know.

Nathan Coulter, the first of the three, surprised me. I had to work to stay with the book through the beginning, but after that, Berry drew me in to the story and I finished more quickly than I expected. The story revolves around the Coulter family through the perspective of Nathan, who is traversing his formative years. Berry uses everyday experien
Stephen C.
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional writer with a clear view of the world. While all 3 are good stories I was especially moved by A World Lost. His summary at the end about lives not having an end - coupled with how lives are tied into so many stories that go on and on seemed especially profound. He wrote too of how when the departed get to heaven they "...are changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be." It isn't a long read and if you don't have ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I will admit that I only read two of the three short novels, due to having access to this book for a limited period of time. However those two left me with plenty to digest. This was my first (dare I admit it) engagement with Berry, and I found his work beautifully wrought. It managed to be nostalgic without saccharine, and I found myself laughing and fighting tears by turns. There is a sparseness to his prose that is lacking in much of the writing I have read lately, and it was refreshing.
David A-S
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Though he is more likely to be found on a bluegrass hilltop than a mountain top, this height-fearing urbanist would gladly scale a rocky face to hear this sage speak. In these novels set in Port William, Berry's meta-themes of family, farm, and geography are present. They also speak to mid-life issues, identity crises, and meaning. Remembering is particularly poignant.
Ray Francis
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wendell Berry provides 3 nostalgic stories that, while somewhat sentimental, do not lurch off into treacle. There is much to enjoy, remember, miss, and lament about life in rural settings, but Berry does not gloss over the back-breaking work, the heartache weather can bring, and the random shocks life delivers that will set families on a path no one understands (and yet, adapts to).
Curt Klueg
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
My simple, to the point review:

If you want a rivetin, engrossing page-turner - this is NOT the book. If you want a plot with traditional climax - this is Not your book.

These stories are Beautiful Portraits. Portraits of Place and of Family. These stories are slow, but beautiful.
Dec 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
For those who know Wendell Berry only as a poet and/or environmentalist, this collection of three short works is a perfect introduction to his fiction which is an expansion on the poetry and centers on the same themes of relationships and devotion to the earth.
James Neve
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
fabulous, as all of his work is.....
Carole B
Another gem of a book.
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
oh boy. just found my new favorite author.
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Made it through Nathan Coulter with some difficulties, but just couldn't wade through the following two novelettes.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
It took me FOREVER to read this book. Mostly my fault though.
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: grown-up-books
I tried, really... and then I skimmed... and then I just stopped. Sorry Wendell, ya just don't do it for me.
Dana Perkins
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed - but I did have to force myself not to look ahead. Berry likes to chew on things more than my impatience likes, but I need to slow down to think, observe and notice.
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mariah
Shelves: grad-school
Wonderful as Berry's fiction always is. Like Remembering (the middle one) the best.
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Nathan Coulter - a little too long
A World Lost - a little long, syntax sometimes hard to follow
beautiful writing
Sep 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Classic Berry. A World Lost was the best by far. Berry just has an amazing way of developing characters and relationships, so that the relationship becomes the whole story.
Jul 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am completely enthralled with Berry's stories of the Port William Membership.
Riley Kern
rated it it was amazing
Jul 28, 2011
rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2007
rated it liked it
Apr 02, 2013
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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...