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In his transformation from staunch urbanite to countrified goat farmer, Kessler explores the rustic roots of many aspects of Western culture, and how diet, alphabet, religions, and economy all grew out of a pastoral setting.
Acclaimed novelist Brad Kessler lived in New York City but longed for a life on the land where he could grow his own food. After years of searching for a home, he and his wife, photographer Dona Ann McAdams, found a mountain farmhouse on a dead-end road, with seventy-five acres of land. One day, when Dona returned home with fresh goat milk from a neighbor's farm, Kessler made a fresh chevre, and their life changed forever. They decided to raise dairy goats and make cheese.
"Goat Song" tells about what it's like to live intimately with animals who directly feed you. As Kessler begins to live the life of a herder -- learning how to care for and breed and birth goats -- he encounters the pastoral roots of so many aspects of Western culture. Kessler reflects on the history and literature of herding, and how our diet, our alphabet, our religions, poetry, and economy all grew out of a pastoralist milieu among hoofed animals.
Kessler and his wife adapt to a life governed by their goats and the rhythm of the seasons. And their goats give back in immeasurable ways, as Kessler proves to be a remarkable cheesemaker, with his first "tomme" of goat cheese winning lavish praise from America's premier cheese restaurants.
In the tradition of Thoreau's "Walden" and Annie Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," "Goat Song" is both a spiritual quest and a compelling and beautiful chronicle of living by nature's rules.
One fall night, an innkeeper on a remote island in Nova Scotia watches an airplane plummet to the sea. As the search for survivors envelops the island, the mourning families gather at the inn, waiting for news of those they have lost. Here among strangers, they form an unusual community, struggling for comfort and consolation. A Taiwanese couple sets out fruit for their daughter's ghost. A Bulgarian man plays piano in the dark, sending the music to his lost wife. Two Dutch teenagers rage against their parents' death. An Iranian exile, mourning his niece, recites the Persian tales that carry the wisdom of centuries. At the center of this striking novel is Ana Gathreaux, an ornithologist who specializes in bird migration, and whose husband perished on the flight.
What unfolds is the story of how these families unite and disperse in the wake of the tragedy, and how their interweaving lives are ultimately transformed. Brad Kessler's knowledge of the natural world, music, and myth enriches every page.