A hybrid memoir/art book, with an introduction by New York Times Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver.
In 130 ink-and-watercolor drawings, the story of one year on a family farm in Kentucky unfolds in captured moments of daily life: Donahue chopping wood, a cow sniffing her head, her daughter tending to goats after a hard day at school. Each visual is paired with a written reflection on the day’s doings, interwoven with the longer-arc history of her family, the farm, and their community. In telling the story of a farm family’s struggle to survive and thrive, Landings grapples with the legacy of our cultural divide between art and land and celebrates the beauty discovered along the way.
Praise for Landings: A Crooked Creek Farm Year
"Generational memory seems to have fed a modern assumption that manual labor is for the wretched, and farm life is something to be escaped. For all those of us who have returned to it, or elected not to leave at all, there is so much more to the story. It’s a kind of mission work to explain that land itself holds wisdom, and grace comes from reading it every day. The world needs books like Landings to record 'the joy, delight, and awe of our creaturely lives on earth.' To reveal daily labors like these from the inside out, and explain how Efficiency, the god that rules so much of modern life, can be a soul-killing taskmaster. The revelations hold a much-needed redemption of labor itself." —Barbara Kingsolver, from the introduction
"In your life and work as farmers you and David have enacted for nearly all other people the difficulty and the satisfactions, the happiness and the peril of human life on earth. Now you have extended the art of farming into the arts, equally fine and necessary, of story telling and picture making. This is a distinguished book that puts you into the company of Aldo Leopold, Harlan Hubbard, and David Kline. Anybody who passes attentively through its pages will love it."
—From Wendell Berry's letter to the author
"If you want to become wealthy, read this book and live this life. Arwen Donahue is rich beyond measure because her careful attention to each glimpse of the natural world brings joy and awe. Although farming is harsh and unpredictable, she finds in it deep purpose, beauty, art, love, and amazement. She celebrates the unrelenting work and the surprises of farm life, whether she is canning an overload of garden growth (“my inner squirrel,” she says), or conversing with the snake in the bookcase. Her writing is exquisite and charming, with touches of humor. When the lettuces go to seed in summer, they 'shoot the moon.' And the moon is 'tongue-shaped.' Her artistic sensibility embraces both nature and agriculture, which are different angles, it seems. The infinite variety of nature is there for the noticing, and it helps that her farm isn’t industrial beans and corn and big noisy machines. It’s everything glorious you can fit into an enormous pleasure garden. And its food keeps us alive in more ways than one. This book is extraordinary. It will show you how to be amazed." —Bobbie Ann Mason, author of In Country and Dear Ann
"This is such a beautiful book in spirit and execution. The paintings are wonderful and the prose is an utterly satisfying mixture of wonder, attention, lyricism, and a little heartbreak. Donahue captures rural life in Kentucky like no one else. This is such an important contribution to the literature of this state."
—Erik Reece, author of Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia
"Each journal entry is adorned with dreamy ink-and-watercolor drawings that evoke the ever-changing Kentucky landscapes and shine with the artist’s love for the land and the creatures that make a home on it. A loving but grounded ode to farming, Landings will appeal to any reader who feels or dreams of a close connection to the land." —Jenny Hamilton, Booklist
"This gorgeous book has been the delight of my fall. Landings: A Crooked Creek Farm Year, written and illustrated by Arwen Donahue, is a very different kind of devotional. Each entry is both a love letter to Ms. Donahue’s life on a small family farm in Kentucky and a clear-eyed testament to its hardships, complexities, and impossible trade offs. I will read this one-of-a-kind memoir again and again." —Margaret Renkl, author of Graceland, At Last : Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South