les imprest, September 4, 2010 (view all comments by les imprest)
I can see why the Boston Globe, NYT, LA Times, et al gave this book such glowing reviews. As an all out insult towards "fly over" America, a series of highlights starring victimhood and ugly white people, angry white men, and a concerted effort at focussing on sex, this boring tome drones on from tragedy to minor tragedy. If Haruth ever lived in small town America, he must have had a terrible childhood, filled with anger and repressed sex. I'm glad I missed it, and wished I'd missed his Freudian nightmare of a book.
His near hero was (of course) a put-upon school teacher, everyone else is from Walmart parking lot lore, and an odd pair of elderly brothers (WASP simpletons). The sniggering from the elite who proclaim "Yes, that's America!" can be heard on most every campus, from most any professor.
Read a classic, this isn't one of them.
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bentguy1, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by bentguy1)
A work that hits on all cylinders: setting, characterization, plot development, and ending. But much more than that, it touches on the variant nature of humanity, the falls from grace, the small triumphs and understandings and the murkiness of the heart. Subtle, and closely observed—it's great!
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Jeane, April 2, 2008 (view all comments by Jeane)
This is a quietly elegant portrait of a farming community in Holt, Colorado. It focuses on half a dozen characters: a high school history teacher whose depressed wife leaves him to raise two young boys alone, a shy teenage girl who becomes pregnant and decides to run away from home, and two crusty bachelor brothers who run a farm together. Another teacher in the same school becomes the catylist for all these characters' solitary lives to become intertwined and connected. Plainsong is full of guilt and pain, quiet passion and deeply felt compassion. It is a wonderful portrayal of how people's lives touch one another- for good more than ill.
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Plainsong (Vintage Contemporaries)
Used Trade Paper
0 stars -
Vintage Books USA -
Just before Plainsong really hit big, I interviewed Kent Haruf for a now-defunct magazine called Boswell; and after speaking to Mr. Haruf for an hour, caught a glimpse of the modest spirit behind this wise novel. The story is written with deep humility, a plain and simple song, as the title suggests ? though deceptively so. I grew up in a small farming town, and can honestly say I have known every one of the characters in Plainsong, who, though they live in more simple surroundings, lead lives as complex as any other. Like Alistair Macleod, Kent Haruf has got the "decent writing" thing down, and his characters are delightful.
by The New York Times Book Review,
"A novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely...it has the power to exalt the reader."
by Richard Tillinghast, The Washington Post Book World,
"Resonant and meaningful....A song of praise in honor of the lives it chronicles [and] a story about people's ability to adapt and redeem themselves, to heal the wounds of isolation by moving, gropingly and imperfectly, toward community."
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"A compelling and compassionate novel....[With] his sheer assurance as a storyteller, [Mr. Haruf] has conjured up an entire community, and ineluctably immersed the reader in its dramas."
by Jon Hassler, Chicago Tribune,
"A work as flawlessly unified as a short story by Poe or Chekhov."
by Sarah Saffian, San Francisco Chronicle,
"Haunting, virtuosic, inimitable."
by Lisa Michaels, Los Angeles Times,
"If the novelist invents a world, then Mr. Haruf has shaped a place of enormous goodness....The story itself — spare, unsentimental, rooted in action — honors the values of the community it describes."
From the unsettled lives of three people emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together. Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a heartfelt story of family and romance, tribulation, and tenacity. "A novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt the reader." — Verlyn Klinkenborg, the New York Times Book Review
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