Surrounded by his friends and neighbors, he is both participant and witness as the community attempts to transcend its own decline. And meanwhile Jayber learns the art of devotion and that a faithful love is its own reward.
©2001 Wendell Berry; (P)2008 christianaudio.com
Wendell Berry, with simple, almost poetic prose captures the beauty of and yearning for a lost people, place, and time in a way that is reminiscent of the departure of the Tolkien's Elves from Lothlorien and Middle Earth, of Jeremiah's laments over the loss of Jerusalem, and of Tristan Ludlow's final encounter with his bear in Legends of the Fall. While fictional in the specifics it could hardly be any more authentic to the 20th century rural American experience. A small Kentucky town, Port William, plays host to a barber, returned as a young man to the place of his birth. It is told through Jayber's point of view as his barber shop acts as a sort of living room for the town where "talk is drawn as water to low ground". Progress, machinery, war, economy, pride, and hate slowly, but unstoppably, put to death a way of life that feels known and like home. Berry penetrates deeply as very few authors can to explore the hubris, fears, insecurities, and wonders of men and our struggles with God, time, love, and hate.
It is a book about heaven. About the tastes we can get of it here with family life, friendship, beauty, and working to grow, build, and sustain things. These are like "good thing[s] that came" and then fade away leaving satisfaction and a mysterious longing that ensures us that we were not made for this place.
Jayber Crow is an immanently quotable book. Less than an hour in I decided I had to buy the ebook as well so that I could find and underline passages. I underlined more in this than in any other book I've read.
The narrator does an excellent job of capturing the pacing and steady emotion as Jayber's voice, but the editing of the recording could have been better. There were many occasions when an extra second or two pause between tales Jayber is relating would have helped the listener avoid confusion.
Overall this is highly recommended!
As an entertaining 'read' this is a great book. Had never heard of Wendell Berry but a friend guoted Jayber Crow and that was the beginning. I may be different than some in that I enjoy audio books but would prefer a Kindle book read to me so that I might stop, look and listen or read a section again, esp. when the subject matter has depth.
This said I listen to two or three audio books most months.
Jayber Crow is in the top 10.
Berry has a style somewhat similar to Twain but to me - easier to read. The words of farmers, poor people and business owners of the time is spot on but not cumbersome.
Well done - inflection and character 'seperation' was good.
My reaction was to 'remember' farming as it once was and unfortunately never to be again. My reaction was strong enough that I did some research on Mr. Berry and would love to sit on his front porch and listen.
We all must, as Mr. Berry teaches, 'Take an active interest and responsibility in the food we eat.'
I was transported to a time when the world still made since
Jaybor Crow , he lived a very simple, yet full life
Paul Michael did a great job of capturing the flavor of the times and the characters voices
This book will remember a time when things made more sense, people had a purpose for getting up in the morning, and work that gave them pleasure.
I have wanted to read Wendell Berry for quite some time now. I am so glad I finally did. I felt like there were really two stories here, Jayber's and the town's. Watching them weave together was part of what made this book so enjoyable. Both have dreams that are never quite realized, and some that are brutally extinguished. There is sorrow and joy and a good bit of comedy. The book presents some deep subjects in a simple and gentle way but definitely leaves you thinking. It presents a realistic if slightly sentimental picture of a small town, but having grown up in one and now living in another after a few years of urban dwelling, I thought it was very believable and honest.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
Without question, this is a five star book. Readers may find that it starts very slowly, but it is this close observation of life and Berry's lyrical, beautuful writing about community, love, faith and living that make this a highly recommended book. Lovers of small towns, small farms and slow food will find much to love here. I can't wait to read more of his books.
Excellent novel of the landscape of small town America. Berry's writing is wonderfully rich, poetic, and "on target." The way he conveys meaning and emotion is palpably great. The reader is absolutely "pitch perfect" for the novel!
What do I think of this book? I absolutely hated parts and other parts totally blew me over, the words were so perfect. The author IS an acclaimed poet. I was never indifferent to this book. Either I was furious or astounded by the quality of the writing. Should I give it one star for all the times I felt like dumping it immediately? I cannot give it two or three stars because they are lukewarm ratings. I was never lukewarm to this book. Yes, I liked it a lot, four stars it is. I will explain what I liked and what I absolutely hated.
When Wendell Berry describes nature - a river, a forest, a foggy morning – it is not just beautiful, it is completely accurate. A river is something you hear and see. You feel its presence, and all this is conveyed in his words. Me, I adore walking in the woods or along a beach so I felt very attached to Berry’s words.
Humor. There is lots of humor. Tongue in cheek humor and that is my favorite. Great dialogs too.
I look at the story as a whole and I feel the message the author wants to convey is perfectly demonstrated by the events, by what happens, particularly its ending. This is a book about a barber (Jayber Crow) in Port William, Kentucky. He tells us about his life living through the events of the nineteenth century. He speaks of not only his life but all the people of the town, since being the barber he comes to know everyone. This is not a book of historical fiction; you do not read this to learn about either of the wars or the Vietnam War or the Depression, all of which he lives through. He never went to war since his heart disqualified him. He was orphaned twice, but I will not explain that. Read the book instead. He was first educated to become a priest, but he realized it wasn’t his calling. He did have faith. He philosophizes and thinks and questions. All of the things he lived through shape his personality. Berry creates a character that is believable.
The author has a pet peeve and he speaks through Jayber. Agriculture has become big business and this is just not good in the long run! Natural resources are being wasted. Small town life, based on sharing and trade where everyone knows each other is always better than big business. Small scale is always better than large scale production. But it is here that I got so annoyed with the book. I agree with the author’s/barber’s point of view. I am not opposed to the message, but it is repeated and said over and over and over to the point where I just wanted him to zip his mouth. Enough! I get it. I agree. I am not an idiot. I don’t need a lecture. Will you shut up! Do you understand how annoyed I got?!
There. If you can stand a little too much philosophizing and preaching and religious talk, which I could not quite swallow, you will also be given a good story that holds together, where the characters feel real, with lines that will make you smile or laugh or chuckle and most everyone will agree with the message imparted. The author is a poet ……except in those parts when he is proselytizing through Jayber.
P.S. Paul Michael narrated the audiobook I listened to. I liked his southern dialect. I liked the speed, which is rather slow, but I did want him to hurry up when Jayber went on and on and on with his proselytizing soliloquies. The women all sounded the same, and that annoyed me because their personalities were different!
powerful and majestic.
Spanning a generation through the life in Port William, the story does not fail to deliver the an example of patience and love that follows rules long forgotten in this country. a turn romance story that restores our trust in barbers.
Such a unique book is hard to review. My first way this book leaves me staggering is... How is this possibly a work of fiction? It puts Downton Abbey to shame in historical details, or at least believable made up details. To get into this mans head, from his theology, to his love for a woman he could never pursue, to the in depth analysis of the lives of the others from this small town, just to name a few... I simply can't fathom how the author does it. Ways I am changed by this book: I will never again make assumptions that a quiet person who avoids debate has little internal debate and is in fact simple minded. I am more passionate that ever that every way I allow technological or methodological advances enter my life, I will scan it with more skepticism the it is really such a life improver. I will think of my quiet time in nature as less of a luxury and more a necessity. I will treat people with differing theology with more grace and respect. And I am in awe of how much beauty can be found in what we reformers will call "common grace". In his overdriving sin of coveting what was not his to have there was a clearly lesser sin than that of the husband who could not appreciate what he had. That is is not always true, but in this case I think it is fair to say. My wife can't handle books of this slow pace, but if you like me enjoy this sort of vicarious living in a simpler time, gobble this book up like I did.
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