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Writers & Poets

Larry McMurtry and Wendell Berry at the Dairy Queen

McMurtry couldn’t quite set the Bowie knife to the scalp of the Western like Cormac McCarthy did the same year, maybe because he knew those people weren’t grotesque caricatures; they were people he’d known and loved. And when he died last week, he was probably the last person in Archer City who had any connection to those people at all.

From God’s Dark Materials, Comes Jack’s Dark Arts

The longing created in the reader to want to know Jack is not easily articulated. It is difficult to admit that though we love happy endings, we are inexplicably drawn to misery.

Remembered Relationships: A Review of John Berryman and Robert Giroux: A...

As the late historian John Lukacs would insist, all stories as we know them and retell them are remembered. This means they are, inherently, personal. John Berryman and Robert Giroux: A Publishing Friendship is no exception.

A Jane Austen January

The enduring value of adding Jane Austen to my disciplines was not beholden to my expectation of enjoyment from a happy wedding nor was it dependent on my recognition that vice and virtue are at war in me and in the world. She won me by shaping a vision of joy built on virtue and a corresponding vision—gently elided in her prose—of the despair of vice.

Another Night Like All The Rest

Men are fallen creatures who think they’re perfectible when in fact they’re hardly improvable.

“Seventy Years Ago”: A Review of Red Stilts by Ted Kooser

Ordinary and unrefined, Kooser's poems suggest the steady hand of a craftsman who doesn’t need to go looking for the next big thing.

On the Front Porch with Ursula Le Guin

Those who do know her work might be a bit surprised if I suggest that Le Guin has a real porcher sensibility.

Shakespeare and the Pastoral Idyll

Why does Shakespeare offer us love instead of politics? Love is intimate. Love is about attachment. Love is about beauty. Love is local.

Work and Prayer: The Brief Friendship of Thomas Merton and Wendell...

Berry wrote in one of his letters to Merton that “you are one of the few whose awareness of what I’m doing here would be of value to me.” He is acknowledging that he and Merton lead lives of similar mission, lives shaped by work and silence.

Graced Grit: A Hymn-laced Eulogy to True Grit Author Charles Portis

U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn and Mattie bring a type of vigilante justice to Tom Chaney, and we are glad, but Portis doesn’t allow us to be easy about it. There is always a poison fit for the avenger, even if she is a mere child.