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Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow Predicted Storytelling in the Twitterverse

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Good story always depends on silent remembered chunks

Athey was a storyteller too, as it took me some while to find out, for he never told all of any story at the same time. He told them in odd little bits and pieces, usually in unacknowledged reference to a larger story that he did not tell because (apparently) he assumed you already knew it, and he told the fragment just to remind you of the rest. Sometimes you couldn’t even assume that he assumed you were listening: he might have been telling it to himself. With Athey you were always somewhere in the middle of the story. He would just start talking wherever he started remembering.

           (Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry. Beginning of Chapter 21)9781582431604_p0_v1_s260x420-12192012

That’s why Hemingway wrote and then returned to remove as much text as possible to make the story as spare as possible:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

(Hemingway’s self-proclaimed best work)

Our minds need to leap and grasp their way through a narrative to fully engage.


Written by kirkistan

December 19, 2012 at 8:53 am

3 Responses

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  1. […] drag out fight on purity vs. practicality. OK, yes, I’m also reading Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow on the fiction side of the […]

  2. I just posted a quote and partial poem of Wendell Berry’s on consumerism so I thought I would search the blogosphere for other things people were saying about him. I appreciate your tie-in with Berry’s fictional character Athey and Twitter. Berry, of course, is an devout Luddite (still writing with pencil and paper) who lets others manipulate technology for him (while managing still to sleep at night, I suppose).

    Also, your Hemingway story reminded me of a poem about the fragility of life in a nuclear age a professor of mine once quoted (I’m not sure the original source. It went like this – “Womb/ Bomb/ Tomb”


    December 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    • Indytony-thanks for reading and i appreciate your comment. I think i may be on a Wendell Berry kick: his writing is such fun to read. There is at least one Twitter account quoting Wendell Berry, though the author is clear that Mr. Berry is not behind it or in any way involved.


      December 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm

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