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Nathan Coulter  By  cover art

Nathan Coulter

By: Wendell Berry
Narrated by: Paul Michael
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Publisher's Summary

This, the first title in the Port William series, introduces the rural section of Kentucky with which novelist Wendell Berry has had a lifelong fascination.

When young Nathan loses his grandfather, Berry guides listeners through the process of Nathan's grief, endearing the listener to the simple humanity through which Nathan views the world. Echoing Berry's own strongly held beliefs, Nathan tells us that his grandfather's life "couldn't be divided from the days he'd spent at work in his fields".

Berry has long been compared to Faulkner for his ability to erect entire communities in his fiction, and his heart and soul have always lived in Port William, Kentucky. In this eloquent novel about duty, community, and a sweeping love of the land, Berry gives listeners a classic book that takes them to that storied place.

©2009 Wendell Berry (P)2009 christianaudio.com

Critic Reviews

"The Coulter family, like the rest of the people who dwell in this tiny farming community...are caught on the wheel of nature, which is at once blindingly beautiful and unwittingly cruel....The narrative is stunning, the natural scene is beautifully evoked." ( Los Angeles Times)

What listeners say about Nathan Coulter

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written, well read

Wendell Berry has been on my reading "to do" list for a long time and Nathan Coulter was my first opportunity. It was everything I had hoped for: honest, real, deep character development; fantastic imagery; and a solid story. I enjoy mysteries, adventures and other story-driven books that I can't put down. But, I like to have audiobooks available on my ipod to make good use of driving time and so I want something that I can "put down" until my next long drive. Nathan Coulter filled that perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed listening, but could stop and start as time allowed. The narrator has a pleasant, deep voice that fit the book well.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Kentucky Men Tougher than Pine Knots

I met the men of my grandpa’s era in this book, the men who rubbed every nickel until the buffalo ‘bout wore off it. Men who split wood, stacked it along the fence, and ricked it before breakfast. Men to whom hard work was a religion, a means to an end, and the land they worked was their treasure, their inheritance, and their bequest to their children. And I was the oldest of many grandchildren, just so happened to be a girl, who grew up next to grandma and grandpa, on a limestone filled, farm on the Nolin River in Kentucky. Tobacco raisin’, garden growin’, huntin’, fishin’ and hard work, dusk to dawn . . . that’s what rural life in Kentucky was all about. And there was a glue, a love that goes beyond description, a fierceness that burned in grandpa, that held it all together. I saw him madder than a wet hen . . . too mad . . . and as a kid, I didn’t understand how it could flare up so fast and hot . . . listening to Nathan Coulter made a light go off in my head, and made me see clearly why grandma never challenged grandpa, how she kept loving him, accepting him, and how their complete opposite natures meant harmony. People, country people, without PhDs and big degrees, learned a lot more than we do now; accepted what they couldn’t change; and were better for it. I loved hearing all the old sayings that I heard growing up. It was an adventure, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes full of insight. An absolutely glorious listen.

5 people found this helpful

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Never loses your interest

Short and sweet, love the way the story flows. It has dips and valleys you wouldn't see coming.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written and narrated, but...

Mercy, this was a depressing book. I’m not suggesting our expectations of life should be all roses and pleasantry, but I guess I often look for that escapism in books. Anyway, I’ll say that Berry’s writing and weaving together if this story is fantastic. The language and descriptions are beautiful, and I’m not sorry I listened to this book. But if anyone reads this review for the negative points, I’ll lay them out:

1) The story - of a boy and his life growing up in KY - is a depressing one, with many characters who just don’t have redeeming qualities. You keep waiting for the “climax” of this story, or for the morose tone to shift a bit, but it never comes.

2) There are quite a few stories of cruelty to animals. I don’t mind stories of hunting and such, but it is difficult to listen to the outright awfulness that goes on (3 or 4 times) in this book.

So now you know. I don’t want to deter anyone from listening if these things won’t bother you. It just wasn’t for me. The narrator does a fantastic job, sounding very much like Sam Elliott.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Second rate to Hannah Coulter

I’m disappointed with this book after having read Hannah Coulter. I expected too much from Nathan Coulter, the husband of Hannah for so many years. This book helps the reader know more about Nathan’s early years and his troubled relationship with his father and brother. We learn nothing about his time at war, courtship and marriage to Hannah, or their child rearing.

“We weren't allowing our hopes to become expectations. Expectations are tempting, pleasant, maybe necessary. They are scary too, once you have had some experience. They are not necessarily and not always a bucket of smoke, but they can be and are even likely to be.”

Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Worth The Time For Sure

Just a charming, bucolic, story without much adventure to it; some might term it, "slice of life" .
Strong tones of mortality and family.
It doesn't really "make you think" but rather it seems to invite you to.
If that sort of thing is your sort of thing then this book will be your sort of thing.
It was and is for me a pleasure and I will likely go through it again.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

These are the people that keep America great-

I picked this up after Nick Offerman expressed so mich praise for Mr. Berry. The characters are steong willed and exemplify the heart and soul of real working folks. Unfortunately, the story never really goes anywhere - I kept waiting for some sort of climax but all I got was someone's life story. It was almost like listening to my grandfather read is diary.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Just didn't hold my interest

Listened to the first hour or so. Just not for me. Found the story to be trite.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Disturbing…

This book has a description of animal torture that I found very disturbing. For that reason alone, I would not recommend this book. I’ve heard such positive things about this author, and I hope his other books are better.

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America's greatest living author

Loved it, too short if you love great writing and great character development, from America's greatest living author.