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Benediction (Vintage Contemporaries)by Kent Haruf
Synopses & Reviews
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
From the beloved and best-selling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes a story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado.
When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them. Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad's condition stirs up of her own mother's death. Meanwhile, the town’s newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.
Despite the travails that each of these families faces, together they form bonds strong enough to carry them through the most difficult of times. Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way. Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering and, above all, the humanity of its inhabitants.
"Reverberant....From the terroir and populace of his native American West, the author of Plainsong and Eventide again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions." Booklist
"His finest-tuned tale yet....There is a deep, satisfying music to this book, as Haruf weaves between such a large cast of characters in so small a space....Strangely, wonderfully, the moment of a man's passing can be a blessing in the way it brings people together. Benediction recreates this powerful moment so gracefully it is easy to forget that, like [the town of] Holt, it is a world created by one man." The Boston Globe
"A quiet and profound statement about endings, about change and death and endurance, and about the courage it takes to finally let go....What's remarkable is Haruf's ability, once again, to square quotidian events with what it means to be alive and bound in ordinary pleasure with ordinary people [with] a matter-of-fact tone, with spare declarative sentences and plain-speak among the characters that is, in its bare-bones clarity, often heartbreakingly authentic." The Oregonian
"What Haruf makes of this patch of ground is magic [and] Benediction spreads its blessing over the entire town. Haruf isn't interested in evil so much as the frailties that defeat us — loneliness, a failure to connect with one another, the lack of courage to change....[He] makes us admire his characters' ability not only to carry on but also to enjoy simple pleasures." San Francisco Chronicle
"We've waited a long time for an invitation back to Holt, home to Kent Haruf's novels....He may be the most muted master in American fiction [and] Benediction seems designed to catch the sound of those fleeting good moments [with] scenes Hemingway might have written had he survived." Washington Post
"Benediction suggests there's no end to the stories Haruf can tell about Holt or to the tough, gorgeous language he can summon in the process." The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Writers’ Award, the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, the Wallace Stegner Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation; he has also been a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He lives with his wife, Cathy, in their native Colorado.
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