Updated: May 23, 2020
Jayber Crow (2000) is a novel by Wendell Berry (1934). Berry is a classically trainer writer and American novelist. He is also a small farmer, an environmentalist, activist, poet and essayist. Berry has written more books on my favorites list than perhaps anyone. He has been a prolific writer in multiple genres. He is passionate about living a simpler, more sustainable life; close to the earth, respectful of history, but leaning upon science; and close to family and neighbors. The idea of community runs throughout his writing. So in his novel "Jayber Crow" he writes of a small town barber named Jayber Crow who after training as a minister in early adulthood, later becomes the town barber. The novel is in autobiographical form with Jayber telling the story of his life and especially of his adulthood as the barber among simple country people in Berry's fictional township of Port William, Kentucky. For anyone who has spent time in old fashioned barber or beauty shops and experienced the companionship and story-ship of such places then much of this story will seem familiar to you. It is also one of the rare novels featuring the close but ordinary friendships among men. Themes of family, work, leisure, endurance, solitude, faith, nature, kindness and community pervade this book and Berry's many works. Jayber Crow is a great introduction to Berry, as some of his many influential essays can be intense and challenging to read, whereas reading Jayber is like sipping a smooth glass of Kentucky Bourbon on a summer afternoon in the shade.