John's Reviews > Remembering

Remembering by Wendell Berry
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's review
May 24, 2017

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2017
Read from May 19 to 24, 2017

Berry has packed a lot into this little book. I found the book to be one of the most psychologically challenging books I've encountered. Yet the second half is one of the most rewarding I've read. All in all, this is a great, but very different addition to the Port William Membership novels.

We meet Andy Catlett in the dark night of his soul. He's reeling from the trauma of having lost his hand in a farming accident. His life has spiraled out of control after he betrays his hand and his very existence by being unable to be the person he was. Catlett is in a dark, dark place and has nearly alienated everyone he loves, and in fact has alienated himself from life itself. Existence has no significance for him, and he in fact only seems to be living on anger and self-loathing. I've not read other reviews who have suffered as I have, in reading through this, so perhaps my perspective here is the minority. I had a hard time reading through this--especially all the details about his missing hand which made me squirm.

The book is very appropriately entitled "Remembering" because the novel alternates between the present and the past. Catlett remembers many people of Port William--but especially those from his family. The past haunts him because it seems so present to him. He is the man that these people had a hand in forming. He has run from it after his injury and the anger it brings to the surface, but he cannot escape who he is.

From the depths of despair, he comes back from the dead, to live a new life. He returns home, to his family with the burden of repentance. He is in fact afraid that he may die before he is giving the chance to repent to those whom he has wronged, and receive their forgiveness. I won't spoil the end, but it is a glorious picture of true remembrance--by looking with new eyes.

This is a beautiful work that reminds us all what it means to remember. It means to not only remember the past, but to view the world through the eyes of faith.

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Reading Progress

05/19 marked as: currently-reading
05/24 marked as: read
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