Saturday, November 04, 2006

Book Review: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

The subtitle of this book tells its gist:
"The life story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William membership, as Written by Himself."

One would not imagine a simple barber from a tiny, rural hamlet in Kentucky to be literate, contemplative, or spiritually complex. Jayber Crow embodies all of these qualities and more.

The deep human need for community is woven through the narrative, and the reader becomes acquainted with the individual threads: Cecelia Overhold, the town snoot; Athey Keith, the last of the prosperous old-school farmers; Troy Chatham, the up and coming, cocky corporate farmer;Mattie Chatham, the steady and strong farmer's wife.

If you have read Jan Karon's books, the Mitford characters are light weight in comparison to the richly developed personalities of the citizens of Port William Membership.

At another level, the author draws you in to the love of the land and has an obvious deep connection to nature that goes way beyond any fashionable brand of ecology.

One finishes the book with an aching longing to recapture the deep sense of community that has been lost in our urban society.

It is not often one reads a book of lyric beauty. This one is a gem.

4 comments:

Sherry said...

I've been planning to read something by Wendell Berry for a while now. Thanks for the recommendation.

I took the liberty of adding your review to my Saturday Review of Books round-up at my blog, Semicolon. (www.semicolonblog.com) You're welcome to post a link to any future book reviews or book thoughts on a Saturday.

SeasonalSoundings said...

Hopping over from Semicolon...
I read Jayber Crow in September and felt the same way you do. It was my first Wendell Berry, and I plan on more next year.

Seems like we have some things in common...I'm 50, 4 kids (though my oldest is 25, youngest 19), married almost 30 years, husband was minister for 15 years, I just read The Intellectual Life, too, and I love Jan Karon!

Nice to meet you!
Janie at Seasonal Soundings

Poiema said...

Thank you Sherry, for adding my review to your round-up. I enjoyed perusing your blog~~what a potpourri of interests! It is a great resource. Bless you.

Poiema said...

Janie, I am so happy that you took the time to introduce yourself to me. Your blog is so beautifully done and has inspired me often. In fact, I purchased and am reading the Intellectual Life because of your comments. It is a slow read for me; I am taking a lot of notes as I go but find it rewarding.Thank you for taking thoughtful care in writing your blog. I have been enriched.