Library of America just released an anthology of Wendell Berry fiction: Port William Novels & Stories: The Civil War to World War II. As part of the release, LOA has released Berry’s thoughts on the work of some of his closest literary friends. Here is a taste:
Ken Kesey. We were together in the Stanford seminar in 1958–59 and a good many times from then until his death. Our ways of living and working were very different, but I owe him for friendship, much kindness, much laughter, and a number of insights that have been confirming and necessary to my own life and work. It matters that he was another writer who went home.
Denise Levertov. With characteristic generosity she wrote me a letter in 1958 about a poem I had published in Poetry. There was some correspondence from then until we met in New York in the fall of 1962. We lived as friends and neighbors in New York City. I have great respect for her work, and a big debt to her.
Wallace Stegner. I met him of course when I went to Stanford in 1958. He taught the writing seminar in (as I remember) the spring of 1959. He was an excellent, practical critic and teacher, and I have remained under that influence. After I returned to my own country to live, I began to be very much affected and influenced by his responsibility, as writer and advocate, to his country. My debt to him is probably greater than I know.
Read the rest here.