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Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) by [Berry, Wendell]
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Jayber Crow: A Novel (Port William) Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 265 customer reviews

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Length: 390 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The questions who and what and how and why are no doubt useful and occasionally even noble in their place. But for Wendell Berry, whose spare and elegant prose has long testified to the rural American values of thrift and frugality, four interrogatives must seem a waste, when one will do. Where is the ultimate qualifier, the sine qua non, for both the author and his characters. Place shapes them and defines them; the winding Kentucky River and the gentle curves of the Kentucky hills find an echo in their lilting speech and brusque affections.

Jayber Crow is another story of the Port William membership, the community whose life--and lives--Berry has unfurled over the course of a half dozen novels. Jayber himself is an orphan, lately returned to the town. And his status as barber and bachelor places him simultaneously at its center and on its margins. A born observer, he hears much, watches carefully, and spends 50 years learning its citizens by heart.

They were rememberers, carrying in their living thoughts all the history that such places as Port William ever have. I listened to them with all my ears, and have tried to remember what they said, though from remembering what I remember I know that much is lost. Things went to the grave with them that will never be known again.
Jayber tells the town's stories tenderly. Gently elegiac, the novel charts the tension between an urge to isolation and an impulse to connectivity, writ both small and large. As the 20th century moves inexorably forward, swallowing in great mechanized gulps rural towns governed by agricultural rhythms, Port William turns in upon itself. And as Jayber admits quietly, "Once a fabric is torn, it is apt to keep tearing. It was coming apart. The old integrity had been broken." Integrity, both whole and shattered, is key to the stories of Burley Coulter, Cecelia Overhold, Troy Chatham, and above all, Athey Keith and his daughter Mattie, to whom Jayber pledges his undying and unrequited love.

Berry's prose, so carefully tuned that you never know it is there, carries us into the very heart of the land itself; his exquisitely constructed sentences suggesting the cyclic rhythms of his agrarian world. Jayber Crow resonates with variations played on themes of change, looping transitions from war into peace, winter into spring, browning flood destruction into greening fields, absence into presence, lost into found. --Kelly Flynn

From Publishers Weekly

Jayber Crow, town barber in Port William, Ky., recounts his life journey, which parallels the decline of sustainable agriculture throughout rural America. The agrarian threads also run through the novel's romantic triangle, in which Crow pines for the heart of the gracious and beautiful Mattie Chapman, whose ambitious agribusinessman husband, Troy, embodies the antithesis of Crow's sacred devotion to nature. Veteran narrator Paul Michael effectively portrays Crow's complexities and contradictions as both an insider at the hub of community life and a self-sufficient loner who eschews the material comforts and conveniences of the modern age. As Crow and his friends feast on fried catfish and corn pone at a water-drinking party, Michael's whimsical imitation of the good, good, good sound of a moonshine whiskey jug evokes a wistful connection to the joyous simple pleasures of a contemplative existence. Michael's deliberate pronunciation of hard consonant sounds as Crow repeatedly scoffs at the machine-like momentum of the war and the economy may seem heavy-handed. Yet Berry's activism informs his storytelling, so listeners familiar with his body of work should not be surprised by the political edge. A Counterpoint paperback (Reviews, July 31, 2000). (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product details

  • File Size: 1691 KB
  • Print Length: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (August 30, 2001)
  • Publication Date: August 30, 2001
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003SNIZV2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,520 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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