Dear Mr. Berry,
I wanna thank you. I wanna thank you for turning your back on NYU and the New York literati so many years ago and returning to your Kentucky farm. I’m sure, if you had stayed, you would have been a prestigious New York City author and professor. Your experiences would have been experieces shared with millions of others. Do you agree out experiences pretty much build a box around what we write? I think best writing is from a place of real experience. Worst writing is conceptual and imagines the kind of writer we would like to be. Your writing synthesizes with your life. You speak basic truths (some given up way back, like childhood toys) with such authority that we are forced to crawl into the attic and begin going through old boxes.
As a side, I recently carried your book “The Wheel” with me on a trip. On the plane home, I read from it, listened to the most recent album from the rapper Danny Brown and watched the first episode of the TV show “Atlanta”. These three streams merge in my own experience and give me tangible hope that imagination is not dead.
I am thinking of a quote from one of your early essays:
“The pristine America that the first white man saw is a lost continent, sunk like Atlantis in the sea. The thought of what was here once and is gone forever will not leave me as long as I live. It is as though I walk knee-deep in its absence.”
The italics are mine. I hope you don’t mind. It’s such a powerful image. It reminds me that some thing’s absence can be just as influential as another thing’s presence if our imagination is sturdy enough to be aware of it.