Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Memory of Old Jack

I read The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry very slowly. This was not my favorite of Berry's fiction. In fact, I think it rates at the very bottom. (My favorites thus far have been Jayber Crow and Andy Catlett: Early Travels.) Still, I'm glad I read it.

This novel is about Jack Beechum, Mat Feltner's uncle. It is a series of stories from Jack's past, interposed with his current life as a very old man whose health and mental condition are faltering. Jack isn't a very noble character, nor is he one who has a very active cerebral life. He is a man of action, a man of work, not a man of thought. His entire life reflects it - all the good and all the bad. I think I didn't like him much because many of his actions were selfish, petty, or greedy, yet he did not seem remorseful about what he did, rather that his actions that hurt others ended up hurting him in ways he did not anticipate. That may not be what Berry intended for the reader to think, but I really found Old Jack's life pathetic. I did feel pain for him in the end, but was relieved when his story was over.

Worth reading? Yes. Will I re-read it? No.



Blogger Dana said...

Just put a request in for Andy Catlett at my library. It has to be transferred from another branch.

I thought it was odd when Old Jack visited Hannah and was not immediately taken with this supposed act of kindness.

Thanks for your review. As I slowly work through Berry's fiction, I will know that this one can wait :)

7:03 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yes, it can wait, but you probably should read it.

I can't wait to hear what you think of Andy Catlett!

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I've had this one borrowed from my cc library for a while now. Thankfully, they've let me have it until the end of this semester (May). : )

Thanks for stopping by my blog (review of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle). Thanks for the insight, too, into MacDonald's other works!

8:47 AM  
Blogger Page Turner said...

Sounds like we both read some less than stellar Wendell Berry this week. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I think Jayber Crow and Andy Catlett will be the next Port William books that I try.

8:51 PM  

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