Back Wendell Berry, “A Half-Pint of Old Darling”

Wendell Berry (b. 1934)
From Wendell Berry: Port William Novels & Stories (The Civil War to World War II)

“Heaths Ferry, above Carrollton, Ky,” c. 1920. One of several postcards published and sold by W. L. Gaines, a prominent pharmacist in Carrollton during the 1910s and ’20s. In Berry’s fiction, the town of Hargrave resembles Carrollton, which was originally called Port William. (Scan courtesy of 72 Scrapbooks)

In all of his novels and stories Wendell Berry has presented to readers the interconnected lives and adventures of the denizens of the fictional rural town of Port William, Kentucky, a community “without pretense or ambition, for it was the sort of place that pretentious or ambitious people were inclined to leave. It had never declared an aspiration to become anything it was not.”

For the first time, Berry’s eight novels and nearly four dozen stories set in Port William will be available in the order of their narrative chronology, spanning 150 years from the 1860s to the twenty-first century. And this week marks the publication of Port William Novels & Stories (The Civil War to World War II), the first book of this two-volume Library of America edition, prepared in consultation with the author.

Among the treasures in this volume are seven stories portraying the farmer Tol Proudfoot and his wife Miss Minnie, whose marriage provides some of the more amusing moments in Berry’s tales. Set in 1920, the year women could finally vote and Americans could no longer drink, “A Half-Pint of Old Darling” features a trip to town by horse buggy, the buzz of an upcoming election, and a wayward bottle of whiskey. We present it in full as our Story of the Week selection.

Read “A Half-Pint of Old Darling” by Wendell Berry

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