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Jayber Crow Paperback – September 18, 2001
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"The family are caught on the wheel of nature, which is at once blindingly beautiful and unwitingly cruel...The narrative is stunning, the natural scene beautifully evoked."
"An almost perfect fiction, a sublime meditation on how irrevocable loss is redeemed through a renewed sense of kinship with the land and the past...A beautiful and ennobling book."
"Mr. Berry writes elegantly, effortlessly balancing tragedy and a quiet, sly humor."
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- As soon as I closed the book I literary said out loud, “Beautiful.” That is the best way to describe Jayber Crow. The entire book is beautiful.
- What makes the book beautiful is the way Berry writes. The book is almost a slowly paced, sitting on the porch in rocking chairs conversational style of writing. It felt as if I was sitting listening to my grandfather recount his tales of farming and a previous way of life I’ll never know personally.
For me that is all that needs to be said. I was such a refreshing read that I still think on it, sigh (a good sigh of relief from an exhausting world), then smile. Many authors try to be flashy, exciting, action-packed, sexy, or controversial in their works and that isn’t always a bad thing. Wendell Berry is none of these in Jayber Crow (some may argue controversial in some of his other writings). The best thing I can say is it is a refreshing, relaxing, page turning book. I cannot wait to devour more Wendell Berry. The quote I’ll leave you with is long but is soaked with wisdom and a reflection of Berry at his finest.
“If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line—starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King’s Highway past appropriately named dangers, told, and snares, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City. But that is not the way I have one it, so far. I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like straight line to me has been a circle or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order. The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistake and surprises. Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led—make of that what you will.” p.133
"It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointing its members, always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, always failing and yet always reserving a sort of will toward goodwill. I knew that, in the midst of all the ignorance and error, this was a membership; it was the membership of Port William and of no other place on earth. My vision gathered the community as it never has been and never will be gathered in this world of time, for the community must always be marred by members who are indifferent to it or against it, who are nonetheless its members and maybe nonetheless essential to it. And yet I saw them all as somehow perfected, beyond time, by one another's love, compassion, and forgiveness, as it is said we may be perfected by grace."
Jayber Crow is a whole and wholesome novel, concerned with truth, beauty, and goodness, and told with a voice that is trustworthy.