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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!
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Where does Jayber Crow rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
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.
What other book might you compare Jayber Crow to and why?
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.
Have you listened to any of Paul Michael’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Well done - inflection and character 'seperation' was good.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
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.
Any additional comments?
We all must, as Mr. Berry teaches, 'Take an active interest and responsibility in the food we eat.'
4 of 4 people found this review helpful