Our economy rewards those who are rootless; the well-paid Creative Class that Richard Florida celebrates thrives on geographic hyper-mobility. Yet such mobility encourages us to invest not in communities, but in our own résumés and careers, and it becomes tempting to leave behind our mistakes and the places they’ve damaged. Berry’s practice of careful revision, particularly evident in his early novels Nathan Coulter and A Place on Earth, demonstrates a patient faithfulness to develop his imaginative vision. In the case of Nathan Coulter, this entails reimagining the death of Nathan’s grandfather and making Nathan himself a more faithful inheritor of this loss. In A Place on Earth, Berry’s revisions similarly focus the novel on questions of fidelity. In the first edition, his prose provided too much explication and context for readers, exempting them from the difficult ignorance his characters endure. These revised novels do not sugarcoat the difficult work of fidelity, but they portray how fidelity enables individuals and communities to receive redemption in the midst of loss.
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