'The Rural Life'
By: Verlyn Klinkenborg
(Hardback / 224 Pages / Little Brown & Company / ISBN: 0316741671 / $20.00)
Description: 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.
Verdict: Industrialized farming has provided our society with a steady supply of cheap and convenient food. Verlyn Klinkenborg's family was / is part of that industrialization success story. Even if that food from that industry has acceptable nutritional quality, many of us recognize that industrialized food is lacking in culture and spiritual substance. Something has been lost.
But it does not make sense for our society to ask for more expensive food or give up convenience. Those attributes afford us the opportuntity and resources to advance further. Collections like 'The Rural Life' allow our society to critically, collectively explore, debate and evaluate our alternatives. This collection is particularly important because of the questions and hopes it raises regarding transcendent nature of agriculture.
The alternative to the transcendant approach is massive subsidization of an old, inefficient industry. Subsidization is politically expedient, but it's a zero sum game. We can do better - we must expect more. Transcendance will require patience, wisdom and vision ... and a few good books like 'The Rural Life.'
Reviewed By Mark Bruns