Andy Catlett: Early Travels

( 7 )

Overview

Berry opens this latest installment of the Port William series with young Andy Catlett preparing to visit a place he'd been to many times before, though this would be an adventure he will take very seriously. Nine years old, Andy embarks on the trip by bus, alone for the first time. He decides it will be a rite of passage and his first step into manhood. Sometimes a handful at home, Andy was a good boy when visiting his Grandparents' houses, and he looked forward ...

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Andy Catlett: Early Travels

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Overview

Berry opens this latest installment of the Port William series with young Andy Catlett preparing to visit a place he'd been to many times before, though this would be an adventure he will take very seriously. Nine years old, Andy embarks on the trip by bus, alone for the first time. He decides it will be a rite of passage and his first step into manhood. Sometimes a handful at home, Andy was a good boy when visiting his Grandparents' houses, and he looked forward to the little spoiling certain to come his way.

 

Set during the Christmas of 1943, young Andy's experiences on this solitary voyage become pivot points of the entire epic of Port William. The old ways are in retreat, modern life is crowding everything in its path, and as Andy looks back many years later, he hears the stories again of his neighbors and friends.

 

A beautiful short novel, this book is a perfect introduction into the whole world of Port William and will be a new chapter for those already familiar with this rich unfolding story.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Readers familiar with rural Kentucky novelist (A Place on Earth), poet (A Timbered Choir) and essayist (Another Turn of the Crank) Berry and his vast repertoire will feel right at home in this slim, memoirlike novel narrated by the elderly Andy Catlett. In the winter of 1943, at age nine, young Andy is allowed to set out alone by bus from his home in Hargrave to Port William, 10 miles away, where both his parents grew up. After coffee at the bus station (a nickel) and quick trip, he is retrieved by his grandfather Catlett's mule team, driven by longtime hired black servant, Dick Watson. Andy's observations of his grandmother's unfussy cooking and the men's work stripping tobacco in the barn is full of nostalgic, admiring detail. Dick and Andy visit Dick's wife, Aunt Sarah Jane, whose superstitions and acute perception of racial inequity "introduced the fester of it into the conscience of a small boy." At a visit to his mother's more modernized family farm, the absence of Uncle Virgil fighting overseas is grievously felt, and Andy is allowed to listen to the radio before sleeping. "The world I knew as a boy was flawed, surely," Berry writes wisely, "but it was substantial and authentic." (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This short, elegiac novel is the latest in Berry's Port William series. Port William is a fictional town in rural Kentucky. Narrator Andy Catlett is looking back, 60 years later, at his nine-year-old self enjoying his "last year of innocence" before the shocking summer of 1944 (chronicled in A World Lost, 1996). His memories encompass three days between Christmas and New Year's in 1943, when Andy embarks on his first journey alone, a ten-mile bus ride from his home in Hargrave to Port William, where both sets of grandparents live. He is met by his paternal grandfather Marce, his hired hand Dick Watson, who is black, and their mules and wagon. (Andy longs for his own mule and harness.) Marce, a tobacco farmer no longer active himself, has four employees. The Catletts do not have electricity, unlike Andy's other grandparents, the Feltners, who also own a car. The visit is uneventful. Andy is fed handsomely in both homes, despite wartime rationing. At Granddaddy Feltner's, he helps transform the tobacco barn into a sheep barn. Though the story is short on events, it is long on feeling. It amounts to an outpouring of gratitude (the novel's transcendent emotion) for the loving kindness he was shown, and the chance to have known a simpler era before it disappeared. These are good people living hard lives, but the group portrait is not saccharine. One of Grandpa Catlett's hands is a menacing loner. No excuses are made for the racism of the time, in which, as Andy will come to understand, all white people were "complicit." Memories hark back to the Civil War, "immediate as an odor." Nevertheless, the vanished Port William glows, a town content to be itself, unacquainted with modern restlessness.An eloquent distillation of Berry's favorite themes: the importance of family, community and respect for the land.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593761646
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Series: Port William
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 632,319
  • Product dimensions: 8.92 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2007

    Rememberance - A 9 year-olds story for adults

    This is a surprise find on the shelves. Reading Berry's account of his early childhood travels will strike up memories of your own travels to Grandpa's. The story is rich with axioms and descriptions that will help you relive warm memories of your own upbringing. His colorful reflections of life in the 1940's and the transition from agrarian to industrialization of the US will leave you wishing for the simpler times of your childhood. That coupled with Berry's reflections on how World War II would change everyone's lives makes this a powerful novel. Pick this for your book club! You won't go wrong.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Jacob

    Here

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Jessica

    Morning everybody im leaving to grandma today!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    Andy

    Yea...ill try to be on. Night:)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    Cali

    Hey

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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