Jayber Crow

Jayber Crow

A Novel

Book - 2000
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"This is a book about Heaven," says Jayber Crow, "but I must say too that . . . I have wondered sometimes if it would not finally turn out to be a book about Hell." It is 1932 and he has returned to his native Port William to become the town's barber.

Orphaned at age ten, Jayber Crow's acquaintance with loneliness and want have made him a patient observer of the human animal, in both its goodness and frailty.

He began his search as a "pre-ministerial student" at Pigeonville College. There, freedom met with new burdens and a young man needed more than a mirror to find himself. But the beginning of that finding was a short conversation with "Old Grit," his profound professor of New Testament Greek.
"You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out--perhaps a little at a time."
"And how long is that going to take?"
"I don't know. As long as you live, perhaps."
"That could be a long time."
"I will tell you a further mystery," he said. "It may take longer."

Wendell Berry's clear-sighted depiction of humanity's gifts--love and loss, joy and despair--is seen though his intimate knowledge of the Port William Membership.

Alternative Title: Life story of Jayber Crow
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : Counterpoint, c2000.
ISBN: 9781582431604
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 363 p. ; 24 cm.


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Oct 19, 2018

A beautifully written book about the simple life that we have all seemed to have forgotten. This is a touching story about love and loss. Berry is an amazing writer. It flowed slowly and softly though one mans life. Not a book you want to rush though.

Feb 09, 2018

For decades Jonah Crow (aka J Crow, aka J Bird, aka Jayber) was the barber in the small town of Port William, Kentucky. As he himself says, a barber is a magnet for stories, especially in the kind of small town where his shop serves as one of the few social spaces. In addition, Jayber served for years as the church custodian and gravedigger, giving him even more opportunities to know the people of the town, and to share in their living and dying. He is, however, also something of an outsider, being both an orphan, raised and educated elsewhere, and a lifelong bachelor. The novel is the story of how he comes to understand his own living and dying through the trials and travails, virtues and vices of those around him.

Jayber Crow, the novel, is as charming and unpretentious as its protagonist, likewise it is just as patient and unexpectedly deep - unexpected, at least, for those unfamiliar with Berry's other work. For those who do know Berry, his usual themes are masterfully elaborated here - love of neighbor and care for the earth, the importance of community and sense of place, the reality of a cosmic order and the sacredness of work.

WVMLStaffPicks Feb 01, 2015

Berry is a Kentucky farmer, a cultural critic, and a prolific writer whose “Port William” fiction has been compared to Faulkner’s Mississippi. In this quietly touching novel, a man looks back on his difficult but full life and the transitions of the 20th century as felt in his small Kentucky town. A classic.

Sep 11, 2013

This novel is a beautiful reflection on life, mortality, and nature from a master of prose, poetry, and fiction.


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