by Kent Haruf is one of my favorite books. Haruf captures the spirit and life of a
farming community in Colorado perfectly.
In winning the National Book Award, Plainsong was described as “a novel of wisdom and grace”. Tom
Guthrie’s wife is living a life of blue Mondays. Unable to defeat the miasma of despair
defining her life, she moves out leaving Tom alone to raise their two boys.. A bully at the school where Tom teaches
menaces his sons, and causes heartbreak.
The bachelor brothers, Raymond and Harold, know cows. They are comfortable with all things bovine;
know them, like them, and understand them. Young women are an alien species to
the old bachelors. But this is a farming
community, a place where people know each other’s business and pull together;
the brothers have a huge reservoir of kindness.
When a pregnant 17 year old girl needs a home, they take her in and do
their best to make her welcome. As the
lives of the characters intersect, Haruf writes with such perfect harmony you
will feel transported to this Colorado farming community and when you reach the
last page you will be sad the story ended, it is that good. An excellent story told with compassion and
"With Plainsong, [Kent Haruf] has conjured up an entire community, and ineluctably immersed the reader in its dramas. He has written a compelling and compassionate novel." - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Haruf's unforgettable tale is both emotionally complex and elemental, following, as it so gracefully does, the cycle of life, death, and rebirth." -Booklist
Nominated for the National Book Award, Kent Haruf's Plainsong, Unabridged on audio
A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.
In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl - her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house - is pregnant with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.
From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together - their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant.
Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a story to care about, believe in and learn from.
"Plainsong is nothing short of a revelation." - Richard Russo
About the Author
Kent Haruf's The Tie That Binds received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. Also the author of Where You Once Belonged, he lives with his wife, Cathy, in Murphysboro, Illinois, and teaches at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.