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Additional info for American Writers, Supplement X
Never a maverick writer himself, Stegner was notably sympathetic to writers who were, especially if they criticized a culture intent upon abusing the land and betraying those who depended on it. Berry clearly shared Stegner’s values from the start, but his experience at Stanford probably strengthened his later appreciation for more radical critics like Ezra Pound and Edward Abbey. A countercultural fervor in Berry’s writing would eventually emerge, akin to but even stronger than that found in Kesey or McClanahan or Abbey.
In “The Long-Legged House” he imagines his Uncle Curran as a Thoreauvian bachelor, rebuilding his cabin with recycled lumber, ceremonially cleansing the place—as Berry himself would do, more than once, in the years ahead: “It was in his nature to have a house in the woods,” Berry speculates. ” His uncle is the apparent alter ego here, Thoreau the real one. In fact, Thoreau represented a far more radical and renunciatory self than Berry had imagined for himself before. , the influence of Thoreau’s essay “Resistance to Civil Government,” as well.
Stephens, Jack. ” BOMB, no. 73:36–42 (fall 2000). Weaks, Mary Louise. ” Southern Review 30, no. 1:1–12 (January 1994). ” The year was 1964. Berry had already published stories, poems, and his first novel. He had won a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, spent two postgraduate years at Stanford, and traveled in Europe. An assistant professor of English at New York University, he was married, the father of two, and living in Manhattan. His second novel was half finished, and his poems were appearing in Poetry and The Nation.