The book’s story concerns a pair of young unsung hero farmers, Enno and Ahnah Duden, and a secret society that gathers itself around them, to protect these innocents and deflect the dark forces that would bring them down. The hollowing out and erasure of the nation’s rural lifestyle and substance since the early 1970s has resulted in several generations of what Lynn Miller sometimes calls “farmer pirates,” who must assume a low profile to conduct their farming, and are treated to the skepticism and scorn of the few big Agribiz players left, who rarely admit how often they too are driven to the brink of insolvency and despair.
There is a bold sense of arrival and purpose to Lynn Miller’s new novel, which is a third continuation of his Duden Chronicles, extending beyond The Glass Horse (2008) and Brown Dwarf (2020). Some readers already know how Lynn Miller plays some of the visual and graphic games of Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, and shares a laugh at human follies with Rabelais and Miguel de Cervantes. These strong ancient spices flavor dishes he conjures and serves, that are the fare of modest humans who have always savored our common predicament. But in this new book the narrator stands close to the reader, and keeps edging closer, by turns dodges and hectors and whispers, taking it all so personally that despite our silly selves we readers can’t help but pause and reflect. But that is not only or even mostly its effect, nor the least of the book’s plantings, growings and gleanings. Punctuating his masterful storytelling with a myriad of quotes both real and conjured, as well as visual puzzles and historical context to rest the gaze, the book assembles and reflects a living culture, an alternative and sometimes furtively blessed reality that stands quiet and ready, often poignant with its wry encouragements and tart advice.
“At its heart, [Roots in a Lovley Filth] is a work of informed passion for farming – its history, culture and operations meticulously threaded into a narrative that grieves for what humans have lost or damaged, and offers a path for cultivating an essential and healing connection to nature.” – Rhona McAdam
“If we are to be saved, who and what will save us? In the title of his new novel Lynn Miller calls out its name: Roots in a Lovely Filth. The book’s title is a refreshing declaration and appreciation of what must matter, what will feed and free us.” – Paul Hunter