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The Rural Life Prayerbook

by Alban Dachauer

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About Book

From Publishers Weekly
Klinkenborg's third book (after Making Hay and The Last Fine Time) is a selection of columns originally appearing on the New York Times editorial page under the heading "A Rural Life." They document in vivid detail the daily challenges of life in the country, and on a farm in particular. Though the columns are drawn from seven years of writing, the book is organized into a single year-12 chapters starting in "January" and ending in "December"-and flits from topic to topic, relying on a few short passages of news or descriptions of holidays to mark the passage of time. Likewise, the author never sticks to one place for long, but ranges across the continent of the U.S. and glimpses events in dozens of country towns from Wyoming and New Hampshire to Minnesota and New Mexico. Some episodes are emblematic of contemporary American culture: a high school football game, President Clinton's dedication of Walden Pond, the disquiet in the days following September 11. Others are more intimate passages discussing the author's family and the solace he finds in keeping bees, stacking hay or simply turning earth. Though this highly personal chronicle lacks any narrative arc other than the changing of the seasons and the author's emotional reaction to them, nothing in the prose is accidental, and the deliberate, finely hewn sentences convey, above all else, the seriousness with which Klinkenborg takes the task of watching the world around him. A heady meditation on our relationship to nature, echoing the works of the transcendentalists Thoreau and Emerson, the writing is much closer to poetry than essay.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board of the New York Times and author of Making Hay. This collection of essays, most of which have previously been published in the NYT and elsewhere, describe his experiences of rural life, from his farm in upstate New York and in the American West. When a book is a compilation of essays, it can often suffer from a lack of continuity or context. While these selections are gathered according to month, they leap from geographic locations without regard to year; in fact, there is no indication of when they were written (except a couple references to 9/11). Klinkenborg explains: "If spring seems to be well advanced on one page and balky and weeks behind on the next...I'm probably describing two very different springs." Because he writes so well, one can endure the bumpy ride. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
--Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Most of these essays have been published previously in an eponymous column on the New York Times editorial page. Their collection in one volume achieves a kind of consecration of time, as Klinkenborg chronicles the passing year through changes he observes on his upstate New York farm and during his frequent travels out west. Klinkenborg lingers over the chapters devoted to the summer months, his prose appropriately rich and yearning. No death or rebirth is too small to be marveled over and recorded, but paradoxically, Klinkenborg's careful observation and reflective, uncomplicated language generate their own suspense. Descriptions of the changing light in September, drives through falling snow, and the satisfaction of a rooster's crow at dawn are rendered in joyous and unsentimental prose without a hint of folksiness. Klinkenborg's many fans will cherish this chance to spend a year in his company. For readers new to his work this is an excellent introduction to a fine and inspiring writer. Meredith Parets
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Kirkus, 9/15/02
"...captivating, subtle, and splendid...a Thoreau for today...storytelling at its highest...unflaggingly lovely..."

Tom Brokaw
"…not only a rich and evocative pastoral pilgrimage, it is a national treasure…Klinkenborg is our modern Thoreau…"

Alec Wilkinson
"Klinkenborg has a singular affinity for the natural world and because he is such an accomplished writer…"

Michael Korda
"At once lyrical and down to earth…brilliantly takes the reader to the very heart of living in the country…

Jack Valenti
"…no journalist…surpasses his liquid prose, which he offers with such ease and fluency…"

Gregory Long, President of the New York Botanical Garden
"Klinkenborg has a poetic vision…takes his place among the best American writers about the natural world…"

New York Times Book Review, 12/1/02
"...brief, luminous essays...calls to mind Gilbert White and Thoreau...a work of almost uninterrupted felicity..."

Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer, 11/24/02
"...contains inquiry and ideas of substance..."

Book Description
With an eloquence unmatched by any living writer, Verlyn Klinkenborg observes the juncture at which our lives and the natural world intersect. His yearlong meditation on the rigors and wonders of country life-encompassing memories of his family's Iowa homestead, time spent in the wide open spaces of the American West, and his experiences on the small farm in upstate New York where he lives with his wife-abounds with vicarious pleasures for the reader as it indelibly records and celebrates the everyday beauty of the world we inhabit.

About the Author
Verlyn Klinkenborg is the author of Making Hay and The Last Fine Time. He is a member of the editorial board of the New York Times and has written for The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, National Geographic, Mother Jones, and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. He lives in upstate New York.



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