Victoria Jelinek

Plainsong by Kent Haruf
July 21, 2016, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Book reviews | Tags: , , , , , , ,

PlainsongA small town community in the ‘heartlands’ is the setting for Plainsong and its rendering of the quintessentially American experience. Kent Haruf interweaves the stories of a lonely teacher, a pair of boys abandoned by their mother, a pregnant high school girl, and a couple of brittle old bachelor farmers as they undergo radical changes over the course of a year. With lyrical, eloquent prose that is richly nuanced, Haruf presents the steadfast courage of decent, troubled people getting on with their lives.

Weather and landscape set the quiet, observant mood of the narrative, while descriptions of rural existence are poetic invocations to the natural world. Haruf steers clear of sentimentality and melodrama, however. His beautifully imagined characters and the vivid depictions of their experiences, makes each of them seem non-fiction, which can evoke both heart-warming and heart-wrenching feelings (respectively) in the reader. Emotions that resonate long after one finishes the novel. This is a contemplative and compelling story about grief, loss, loneliness, and frustration, as well as kindness, love, benevolence, beauty, and what it means to be a family.

3 Comments so far
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Eloquent, touching preview–I want to read it.

Comment by Barbara F. Jelinek

I read this today, Tori, and think your review is eloquent.

I think I’ll get the book to read.

I am unable to fill out all the response forms I find on emails,

preferring to write you separately, which I did–and am doing.

I’m panicky about the internet, almost a complete idiot responder.



Comment by Barbara Jelinek

It’s okay, Mom…you can be a luddite, you’re still brilliant! Thanks for commenting…

Comment by victoriakjelinek

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