Skip to content
Hardcover Andy Catlett: Early Travels [Large Print] Book

ISBN: 1585479934

ISBN13: 9781585479931

Andy Catlett: Early Travels [Large Print]

(Part of the Port William Series)

Select Format

Select Condition ThriftBooks Help Icon


Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

*Best Available: (ex-library)

Save $9.56!
List Price $31.95
Almost Gone, Only 2 Left!

Book Overview

A young boy takes a trip on his own to visit his grandparents in Kentucky in this luminous entry in the acclaimed Port William series. In this "eloquent distillation of Berry's favorite themes: the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Life Lessons

Wendell Berry has created something with the Port William Membership stories that perhaps no other writer has created. While other authors may return to the same character, no other author has crafted a series of tales and novels where the setting is more character than place. Reading the novels and stories of those who inhabit Port William and its environs is like returning home, like reliving your childhood and that of your ancestors, like seeing the world with brand new eyes. In "Andy Catlett: Early Travels" Berry revisits a character readers familiar with his works have met later on in life. As an old man, Andy Catlett revisits the Christmas he was nine years old and was allowed to travel by himself to visit both sets of grandparents. To him it was the beginning of his manhood, a dividing time between his childhood and his future. He spends two days with his Catlett grandparents, witnesses their sparse economy and the simple life they lead among the encroachments of modernization. He also spends two days with his Feltner grandparents, more well-to-do farmers, but still exemplars of frugality and self-sufficiency. As an older man, he can look back on those few days and realize what he missed along the way and what he gained. While slim and focused in scope, "Andy Catlett: Early Travels" reaches far and wide. Berry offers insights and observations into today's world without seeming to preach. His knowledge is assured and true and sad, in that through our modernization and our current way of life, we will not know how to provide for ourselves should our current system fail us. In times of economic crisis, these questions seem too obvious to ignore. And while Berry offers the condemnation that the present world may yet have to pay for what it has forsaken, he also offers reassurance and hope.

Another masterpiece from Wendell Berry

No words are adequate to describe how Mr. Berry writes. He doesn't give you words to read. He takes you by the arm and gently leads you into another time and place, a place some of us remember when we read his words, but otherwise find too little time to recall. In this book, Mr. Berry once again leads us to Port William. It is winter time. Andy Catlett, the young boy, has the opportunity to go and visit his two sets of grandparents, one set still living on the farm. Andy is embraced by all who live and work there, but embraced in a way that is not coddling or spoiling. He knows his place among these older adults and they remind him in various ways of what that place is. When he goes to his other grandparents who live at the edge of the town, he is part of the same world but in a different way. And Mr. Berry shows us again how the affairs of the world affect these wonderful people, but also how they do not allow themselves to be affected to the point that they lose their place. Near the end of the book, Mr. Berry gives us the type of insight into ourselves that makes us examine, which might allow us to consider life changes, but which for most of us is just a lingering itch in our subconcious. He points out that we worry too much about how much love we have been given in life rather than considering to what extent we have appreciated the love we have received and the love we have extended. Please read this book.

Button Box - Symbol of a different time

This book is another gift from Wendell Berry which urges us in its quiet yet strong way to remember where we came from and stop and think about where we are going. Looking back through the span of his life, Andy Catlett describes a time when family ties were strong and children were given the freedom to be responsible, to learn the value of work and to watch and grow within that family network. I was delighted to read the section about the button box, as I was lucky enough to endlessly play with my grandmother's button drawer in her old Singer sewing machine. I am still playing with those buttons with my grandchildren. "I went to the closet..behind Grandma's chair and took out her button box. Every house I visited as a child had a button box. It has disappeared now from every house I know, but then it was a necessary part of household economy. No worn-out garment then was simply thrown away. When it was worn past wearing and patching, all its buttons were snipped off and put into the button box. And then when something old needed a new button, or when something newly made needed a set of buttons, the button box provided. Grandma's was an old shoe box better than half full of buttons of all sorts. It was a pleasure just to run your fingers through, like running your fingers through a bucket of shelled corn. My old game with it was to paw through it in search of matching sets of button, especially the intensely colored glass buttons that had come off dresses. I sat on the floor by Grandma's chair with the box in my lap and fished out a set of shapely black buttons and lined them up on the linoleum beside me. And then it came to me that I was no longer interested in button boxes. Maybe it was because I was now traveling away from home by bus, by myself, but I knew suddenly and finally that my time of playing with buttons was past,just as one summer evening a year or two later, when I had found a perfect slingshot fork in the top of a tree, it came to me that I was no longer interested in slingshots, and I climbed down and left the perfect fork uncut."

"...a knot in the net that has gathered me up...."

Andy Catlett, title character, says this of one of his beloved elders, and means it about the entire ensemble of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, family hires, and others in his close-knit world of childhood, a world that also nurtured him into and through adulthood. Nine-year-old Andy's first solo trip the ten miles to Port William is cause for the boy to ponder how best to navigate the expectations, customs, and burdens of the loved ones he visits after Christmas in 1943. Andy, the boy, is joined in his ruminations by Andy, the man already a father many years and a grandfather too, who seasons his recollections of that rite of his youthful passage with the knowledge and wisdom come from time and the bittersweetness of recollecting kin and kith all gone. The copyright page carries the disclaimer, "This book is a work of fiction. Nothing is in it that has not been imagined." But as other readers have written, one can also imagine fictional Andy and real Wendell slipping into each others skins with ease. Wendell Berry preserves a slice of World War II rural and very small town life with such loving care and meditative dignity that it is difficult not to think of the slim book as intensely personal. ANDY CATLETT: EARLY TRAVELS is my first dip into the "Port William series." Thanks to the irresistible thumbnail sketches of so many characters who inhabit the other novels, I'll be dipping into more -- such as HANNAH COULTER and JAYBER CROW. Ironically, because this book serves more as an introduction to the slate of Port William denizens than as a fully rounded novel, it earns from me four and a half stars instead of five. But truthfully, ANDY CATLETT: EARLY TRAVELS is no less a treasure for the absence of high drama. Berry gently sucks at the succulent and nourishing marrow of American values and reminds us all of the truly important things in life. As Andy concludes, "And now, as often before, I am reminded how grateful I am to have been there, in that time, with these I have remembered."

Tranquil and verdant in old age

How many authors continue to get better as they get older? Berry does, because his work is built on solid foundations of spiritual and artistic discipline. He has never wasted his energy running after fashions, but rather has invested it in his family, his land, and his art. This book is therefore something quite rich, brimming full with clear-eyed insight into the human condition but even more importantly, with deep, sober, yet passionate love for humanity. As ever, the Port William microcosm shows a distinctly American possibility for life, and is tinged with an apprehension that this possibility is just about passed, with little to replace it. For all that, there is no despair here, but a living hope, whose only support is that that life is now on the page and can live in any reader. And you, dear reader, would be well-advised to open this book and join the Port William community.
Copyright © 2023 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell/Share My Personal Information | Cookie Policy | Cookie Preferences | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured