The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

I’ve had this bizarre romantic fantasy for a while, now, that at some future time, I might like to own a (SMALL) farm, and so I keep picking up books on the subject, hoping they’ll shed some light on the idea. Kimball’s The Dirty Life is the first I’ve come across that I actually found helpful and, simultaneously, fascinating. A bright and gifted writer, Kimball’s background is much the same as my own–in short, the opposite of agrarian. And yet, she finds herself jumping right into the life of a farmer, working a large farm by hand, physically exhausting herself, and finding she’s fallen in love with all of it.

Kimball manages to disabuse her readers of the idea that farming is “tranquil,” sharing every detail of its wearing hardship, frustration, and grittiness, while still managing to convey her love for the work and the stock and the land. More reminiscent of E.B. White’s One Man’s Meat than, say, the overly precious The Egg and I, The Dirty Life’s honesty manages to convert more fully than any whitewashed, glowing manifesto might. I think I’ll go make myself a kale salad.

4 Stars

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