Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the authors of the winning and recommended stories free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments Wendell Berry
"Nothing Living Lives Alone"
2012 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

I publish my writing, which means I like to have it read. To have "Nothing Living Lives Alone" published in the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories means that it may be read by some people who otherwise would not find it. That is a pleasing thought. And obviously it is an honor to this piece of writing to have been chosen.

(author photo © Pam Spaulding)

Writing Tips

One reason to write, I suppose, is to find out what can be put into words, and also (finally more important) to find out what cannot be. It pleases me to know that much of the world, and of experience, is beyond the reach of words, as of numbers. I write to bear witness, as well as I can, to the life of my place.

About the Author

Wendell Berry was born in Newcastle, Kentucky, in 1934. He is an essayist, poet, and fiction writer, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and Rockefeller foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts, and also the T. S. Eliot Award, the Aitken Taylor Award, and the John Hay Award of the Orion Society. Forthcoming books include a volume of collected poems as well as a collection of twenty new stories, A Place in Time. Berry lives with his family on a farm in his native Henry County, Kentucky.

Writer's Desk

I seem about always to have had a writing job either on hand or waiting for me to get around to it. Maybe that will continue for a while, but who knows?

Writing Tips

From "Nothing Living Lives Alone" by Wendell Berry

As he looks back across many years from his old age to his childhood, it seems to him that there was a time, from when he was eight or nine years old until he was fourteen, when he experienced intervals of a freedom that was almost absolute. This freedom came to him mostly in the neighborhood of the home place, mostly when he would be alone. Sometimes, when he was with his brother Henry and their friend Fred Brightleaf, they would be sufficiently free, by default of the watchfulness of their elders. They were capable then of exploits beyond the powers of a single boy. But sometimes they would get at cross purposes, and would squander their freedom in arguments over what to do with it. Alone, Andy was free sometimes even of his own plans and intentions.

Writer's Desk

Browse our archive of featured authors from this and other editions of The O. Henry Prize Stories.

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