In A Place on Earth the central character is not a person but a place: Port William, Kentucky, and the farmlands and forests that surround it, and the Kentucky River that runs nearby. This is a region that Mr. Berry knows intimately, both with heart and mind, a region whose faults and virtues he has spent a lifetime studying. In this novel he reveals the deep marriage between the land and its people; as a key figure in the story, the farmer Mat Feltner, puts it, "The earth is the genius of our life. The final questions and answers lie serenely coupled in it."
So the rhythms of the novel are the rhythms of the land. The novel resonates with variations played on themes of change; looping transitions from war into peace, winter into spring, browning flood destruction into greening fields, absence into presence, lost into found. The style of the writing is exquisitely adapted to this varying subject, ranging from lyrical, reflective passages to ribald and rollicking farce -- but it is unified throughout by Wendell Berry's acute perception and delicate sensibility.