Gary Snyder's New Book: Distant Neighbors: the Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder

The book was written by Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry. In 1969 Gary Snyder returned from a long residence in Japan to the Sierra foothills, where he intended to build a house and settle with his wife and sons. He had just published his first book of essays, Earth House Hold. These two founding members of the counterculture had yet to meet, but they knew each other's work and soon began a correspondence. Neither man could have imagined the impact their work would have on American political and literary culture, nor the impact they would have on one another. They exchanged more than 240 letters from 1973 to 2013, bringing out the best in each other as they grappled with faith and reason, discussed home and family, worried over the disintegration of community and commonwealth, and shared the details of the lives they'd chosen with their wives and children.

Here are some comments from mass media:

"Candid, introspective and often deeply philosophical, these letters offer intimate glimpses into the lives and minds of two influential contemporary writers." — Kirkus

"The letters are valuable for ecologists, students and teachers of contemporary American literature and for those of us eager to know how these two distant neighbors networked, negotiated and remained friends." —San Francisco Chronicle

"[...] distills the decades-long flourishing of a remarkable friendship and documents the careers of two important living American writers, natural philosophers, and conservationists." — Publishers Weekly Starred Review

" Distant Neighbors: the Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snydershowcases these two great American poet-philosophers at most thoughtful and least guarded. Decades of correspondence drill down through the layers of their concerns – land use, economics, farming, wild nature, the life of the spirit, modernity itself – as they struggle to live within a culture tearing itself up by its roots." —Paul Kingsnorth's pick for one of New Stateman'sBooks of the Year

"Both poets and essayists have written extensively on ecology and our relationship with the natural environment. But their correspondence reveals as many points of difference - of opinion, of region, of background - as similarity, and lively and thoughtful dialogue on many topics, along with fellowship and a reverence for art and authenticity, is the result." -NPR

"Make no mistake: the melding and morphing of ideas that editor Chad Wriglesworth brings to the pages of Distant Neighbors will, for most readers, be the main appeal of the book. But these small, more literally grounded concerns, the tiny details of a day spent in Henry County, Kentucky, or in the foothills of the Sierras, are shining threads in the cloth of this long, good friendship. Its news like Berrys one spring — that he and his wife Tanya have “three rows in the garden and 35 lambs— or Snyders enthusiastic recommendation of his sisters book on the chicken farms of Petaluma, that keeps the two writers tethered to the warp and woof of their shared sense of place and time. Over and over in these pages the authors rise up to the big, mythical arenas of human existence, then float back down to the simple comforts of the mundane. Such is the feast that feeds them. And as a reader of these letters, its hard not to feel terribly fortunate to be seated at the table." —Gary Ferguson, author of The Carry Home, in Los Angeles Book Review

"In Distant Neighbors, both Berry and Snyder come across as honest and open-hearted explorers. There is an overall sense that they possess a deep and questing wisdom, hard earned through land work, travel, writing, and spiritual exploration. There is no rushing, no hectoring, and no grand gestures between these two, just an ever-deepening inquiry into what makes a good life and how to live it, even in the depths of the machine age." — Orion Magazine