Set in Colorado in the 1980s, "Plainsong" tells the story of various Holt residents. There's teenager Victoria Roubideaux, pregnant and homeless, taken in by two ageing, shy and somewhat taciturn cattle-farming brothers - and the changes wrought in all their lives as a result. Then there's high-school teacher and single-father, Tom Gutherie, who ...
Set in Colorado in the 1980s, "Plainsong" tells the story of various Holt residents. There's teenager Victoria Roubideaux, pregnant and homeless, taken in by two ageing, shy and somewhat taciturn cattle-farming brothers - and the changes wrought in all their lives as a result. Then there's high-school teacher and single-father, Tom Gutherie, who has two sons, Ike and Bobby, and a second chance at romance in the shape of colleague Maggie Jones. Filled with unforgettable characters, "Plainsong" is both convincing and compelling; a glorious, eloquent waltz of a novel. 'Like all the best novels, "Plainsong" takes you into a world that is at once real and vividly imagined. Here is a poetry of landscape, a tender and passionate evocation of ordinary people in majestic country ...written with a kind of compassion that makes it ultimately powerfully uplifting' - Niall Williams. 'With its gentle touch and simple, precise prose, Haruf's novel scores a direct hit on his readers' hearts. "Plainsong" is a perfectly formed, beautifully executed piece of writing that will stay with you long after you reluctantly put it down' - Mariella Frostrup, "Mail on Sunday".
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One of my favorites. I go back to it again and again for inspiration. I will read every novel he writes until he's done writing.
Jul 8, 2010
Several stories entertwined around a search for love, support and caring. The characters, the older brothers, the young girl, the caring friend, all combine for memorable scenes filled with both the good and the bad of the human condition. The writing pace was leisurely but not boring. You fell in love, in like or in dislike with each character. The scene where a crib is selected for the yet unborn was touching. This is a great read for someone looking to get into characters and to experience emotions flowing from the written page.
Aug 14, 2008
asked my brother, the bookseller, for his recommendation a couple of summers back, and this was it. i took it home and savored every morsel of scene, personality, and interaction. just a lovely, satisfying read put together in an intriguing and comforting way. had to go back the next day for "eventide", the continuation of the pleasure.
May 17, 2007
A Hymn to Humanity
Kent Haruf, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a writers workshop, has written an elegant novel depicting the complexities of life in a small plains town.Perhaps he could have chosen mid town Manhattan but a small town has its graces and everyone knows each others stories. The descriptions of characters and Kent's writing style,plain and articulate, draw the reader into each chapter and every dramatic scene. I dont want to ruin the the plot or dealve into individual characters but I couldnt put the book down. A wonderful read especially for your Summer reading lists. I cant wait to read his next novel!
Publishers Weekly, 1999-08-02 In the same way that the plains define the American landscape, small-town life in the heartlands is a quintessentially American experience. Holt, Colo., a tiny prairie community near Denver, is both the setting for and the psychological matrix of Haruf's beautifully executed new novel. Alternating chapters focus on eight compassionately imagined characters whose lives undergo radical change during the course of one year. High school teacher Tom Guthrie's depressed wife moves out of their house, leaving him to care for their young sons. Ike, 10, and Bobby, nine, are polite, sensitive boys who mature as they observe the puzzling behavior of adults they love. At school, Guthrie must deal with a vicious student bully whose violent behavior eventually menaces Ike and Bobby, in a scene that will leave readers with palpitating hearts. Meanwhile, pregnant teenager Victoria Roubideaux, evicted by her mother, seeks help from kindhearted, pragmatic teacher Maggie Jones, who convinces the elderly McPheron brothers, Raymond and Harold, to let Victoria live with them in their old farmhouse. After many decades of bachelor existence, these gruff, unpolished cattle farmers must relearn the art of conversation when Victoria enters their lives. The touching humor of their awkward interaction endows the story with a heartwarming dimensionality. Haruf's (The Tie That Binds) descriptions of rural existence are a richly nuanced mixture of stark details and poetic evocations of the natural world. Weather and landscape are integral to tone and mood, serving as backdrop to every scene. His plain, Hemingwayesque prose takes flight in lyrical descriptions of sunsets and birdsong, and condenses to the matter-of-fact in describing the routines of animal husbandry. In one scene, a rancher's ungloved hand repeatedly reaches though fecal matter to check cows for pregnancy; in another, readers follow the step-by-step procedure of an autopsy on a horse. Walking a tightrope of restrained design, Haruf steers clear of sentimentality and melodrama while constructing a taut narrative in which revelations of character and rising emotional tensions are held in perfect balance. This is a compelling story of grief, bereavement, loneliness and anger, but also of kindness, benevolence, love and the making of a strange new family. In depicting the stalwart courage of decent, troubled people going on with their lives, Haruf's quietly eloquent account illumines the possibilities of grace. Agent, Peter Matson. 75,000 copy first printing; 12-city author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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