Returning once again to the Port William membership, Berry has written his best novel yet, a book certain to confirm his reputation as one of America's finest novelists. . For thirty-nine years Wendell Berry has brought us stories from the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. The latest, Jayber Crow, is the story of a man's love for his community and his abiding and unrequited love for Mattie Chatham, "a good woman who had too early made one bad mistake. " Sent to an orphanage at the age of ten, Jayber grows up knowing of loneliness and want, and learns how to be a watchful observer of human goodness and frailty. With the flood of 1937 he returns to his native Port William to become the town's barber. Slowly, patiently, the observer becomes participant. "This is a book about Heaven," writes Jayber, "but I must say too that it has been a close call. For I have wondered sometimes if it would not finally turn out to be a book about Hell-where we fail to love one another, where we hate and destroy one another for reasons abundantly provided or for righteousness' sake or for pleasure, where we destroy the things we need the most, where we see no hope and have no faith...where we must lose everything to know what we have had. "Sounding themes of love and loss, despair and deepest joy, Berry's clear-sighted artistry in depicting the Port William membership will not soon be forgotten.