Read Plainsong by Kent Haruf Online


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—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, alone herself, 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. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a novel to care about, believe in, and learn from....

Title : Plainsong
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780375705854
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 301 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Plainsong Reviews

  • Will Byrnes
    2018-11-14 01:28

    Victoria Robideaux is 17 and pregnant. Her mother throws her out and she is taken in, for a time, by the kindly Maggie Jones. But Maggie’s old father is off his rocker and this makes for a dangerous household for Vicky. She winds up with two brothers, Raymond and Harold McPheron, sheltered gentlemen who have spent their entire lives working the same ranch in the home in which they grew up. The love that springs up in this makeshift family is a glory to behold. Dark forces abide in the town as well, and are given their due attention, as well. But it is a very human town that Haruf portrays. The writing is beautiful and spare. This is a work of art. Other Kent Haruf books we have enjoyed-----Our Souls at Night-----Benediction-----Eventide

  • Orsodimondo
    2018-11-23 18:23

    UNA STORIA SEMPLICEColoradoAnche se non ho mai guidato un vecchio furgone Dodge rosso sbiadito con l’ammaccatura sul parafango posteriore; anche se la mia colazione non prevede uova strapazzate preparate su una padella di ghisa; anche se non incrocio tutti i giorni bambini a cavallo; anche se il giornale non mi viene lanciato ogni mattina sulla porta di casa; anche se nel mio orizzonte non vedo spesso svettare serbatoi per l’acqua e silos; anche se non sono solito passeggiare per Main Street o svoltare sulla Second; anche se a scuola non avevo l’armadietto di metallo; anche se non ho mai messo incinta nessuna sul sedile posteriore di un’auto dove c’è spazio per fare l’amore e dormire; anche se non sono mai stato a Holt e mai ci andrò perché non esiste, mi sono sentito pervaso da un senso di familiarità fin dalla prima pagina di questo romanzo. Come un ritorno a casa.Potere dell’immaginario americano compenetrato a fondo nella mia (nostra?) cultura.Wind from the Sea, Andrew Wyeth, 1947È una storia semplice quella che racconta Haruf. Una storia piana come la pianura che circonda Holt, la cittadina dove tutto succede.O meglio, sono storie semplici, perché sono più di una: una per ogni personaggio, una decina circa.E, forse, sono storie semplici solo in apparenza. E forse lo sono perché sembrano scritte con parole semplici, senza fronzoli, parole sobrie, parole spoglie, parole che sanno di vero.Forse è solo l’abilità di Haruf che sa rendere le storie, e la vita, piane. Familiari.Spring Fed, Andrew Wyeth, 1967Storie minimali (non minimaliste) raccontate con scrittura minimale (non minimalista). Minimale perché semplice. Piano.Non è necessario raccontare terremoti e disastri, può bastare dar voce al vento lungo la pianura, all’acqua che scorre in un fiume, alle luci cangianti, perennemente a cavallo (magic hour), albe tramonti e crepuscoli…Luci che sembrano del nord in un’atmosfera che sembra del sud.In questo senso è magistrale l’incipit del libro, Guthrie in piedi che guarda fuori dalla finestra fumando una sigaretta, prima di andare a svegliare i figli nella stanza con le grandi finestre.Andrew Wyeth: Frostbitten, 1962.Storie fuori dal tempo. Siamo negli anni Ottanta perché si nomina Nancy Reagan? La gente telefona ancora dalle cabine telefoniche, nessuno usa il cellulare, e si direbbe neppure internet e i computer. Si registrano soap dalla televisione. È un tempo eterno, oggi, o ieri, ma anche domani.Storie vicino all’osso. Prossime all’essenza, immerse nelle fondamenta, nella struttura stessa dell’esistere.Storie di gente che parla poco, ha sempre parlato poco, di gente che direbbe, non devo dirlo per forza solo perché ci sto pensando.Storie di solitudine. Di solitudini. Una per ogni personaggio. Ma il canto del titolo è il coro di questa piccola comunità, è un canto di compassione. E solo con la compassione si penetra la solitudine.Winter Corn Fields, Andrew Wyeth, 1942 [Il mio ricordo corre a quel magnifico film di David Lynch, così inusuale per lui: The straight story, titolo in italiano Una storia vera.]In un’intervista data poco prima di morire Haruf disse:Voglio pensare di avere scritto quanto più vicino all’osso che potevo. Con questo intendo dire che ho cercato di scavare fino alla fondamentale, irriducibile struttura della vita, e delle nostre vite in relazione a quelle degli altri.Un'altra Plainsong

  • Candi
    2018-11-26 02:18

    A beautifully written novel set in the rural town of Holt, Colorado, Plainsong is a book I will not soon forget. The prose is modest yet so elegant in its simplicity. Nothing is overdone and yet what happens to the characters in this book is far from uneventful. A pair of young brothers that have to learn to adjust without a mother in the home, a teenage girl pregnant and without a home, a father trying to raise his boys on his own, and a pair of staunch old bachelors who are presented with a somewhat extraordinary proposal - these all warmed my heart and I had a hard time detaching myself from their lives at story's end. I don't want to say any more than this about the plot; you will have to read this yourself to appreciate all the connections and how their lives intersect with one another in a most meaningful way. My heart ached at times for the young brothers, Bobby and Ike, as well as for the quietly dignified mother-to-be, Victoria. The McPheron brothers and an infirm elderly lady named Mrs. Stearns put a smile on my face and offered me a newfound faith in humanity. This is a story that resonates with hope and beauty and has earned nothing short of 5 stars from me.

  • Cecily
    2018-12-09 01:33

    Colorado High Plains, image source: between the gaps to appreciate the pared-down beauty of this book. At its heart, is absence: the words not used, the thoughts not made explicit, the loved-ones left or lost, the open space in which it is set. The language is plain, utilitarian, and unsentimental, as are the situations described in the short chapters.There is no backstory, there are no inner monologues - indeed, most of the characters say little enough out loud (and when they do, there are no quotation marks) – and there are few suggestions as to what the future might hold. It is all rooted in the fickle but ubiquitous Colorado dust of the here and now (published in 1999, and maybe set a few years earlier).Simplicity lends clarity and focus, but what lies beneath is more complex.The story juxtaposes intolerable loss and cruelty with the amazing, unconditional generosity and love of virtual strangers. Despite the pain, there is always tender, tentative hope: "They knew they were not out of the woods yet, but they allowed themselves to believe that what they saw ahead was at least a faint track leading to a kind of promising clearing." So many caveats in a single sentence.PairsThere is an unsettling sense of oscillation, uncertainty, precarious balance, because this is a book of pairs: twins and opposites, of people and situations – even pairs of pairs (Ike and Bobby Guthrie, the young brothers; Raymond and Harold McPheron, the old ones). One pair are bemused by the many varieties of sugar, eggs, and oats in a shop, then in the next chapter, another pair are bemused by the permutations of cribs, mattresses, and bedding. Windows are open and shaded. Two women withdraw from motherhood as another embarks on it, and childless people parent a mother. The pregnancy of cows is balanced with that of a young woman. Cruelty is counteracted with kindness. There is sleep and wakefulness, death and birth, light and dark, blood and beauty, and walking/pushing away versus being welcomed unconditionally. Perhaps the ultimate pair is that of this book with its sequel, Eventide. They are two halves of the same story, set a couple of years apart, both woven around the delicate combination of pairs of similarity and difference. If you read Plainsong and enjoy it, I urge to read Eventide soon after, as I did. Benediction looks more separate, despite GR labelling it as #3. See my reviews:• Eventide 5*• Benediction TBRSleepThe hypnotic beauty of the plain song is almost soporific. Almost. Sleep is mentioned on the very first page, and is significant in almost every chapter for at least the first third of the book, and occasionally, but importantly, in the remainder. A crucial turning point – more than would ordinarily be the case – concerns the decision to buy a crib.There are so many dilemmas and issues: where characters sleep; how they sleep; whether to wake someone; whether someone is really asleep or not; the dishevelled look on waking; using sleep as an excuse; using lack of sleep as an excuse; watching someone sleep. However, who people sleep with (and don’t) is much less important.A tired character looked “like some survivor of a train wreck or flood, the sad remnant from some disaster that had passed through and done its damage and gone on”.It’s not just people: even the battered windows and screens of an abandoned house make it look “sleepy-eyed”. Individually these incidents are dismissible as quotidian, but taken together, they hint at something deeper: Holt is not a sleepy small town in the usual sense. There are life-changing events for all the main characters, but they are never treated as big emotional dramas. Holt's citizens are troubled in many ways, and that is reflected in their night-time hours. When they’re awake, they get on with life as best they can. Maggie JonesHer name may head only one chapter, but she’s the benevolent puppeteer of most of the key characters. (The chapters each bear the title of the main character(s) concerned. All but two are: (Tom) Guthrie, Ike and Bobby (his sons), Victoria Roubideaux, and McPherons (elderly brothers). There is one each for Ella (Guthrie’s wife) and Maggie Jones.)She is the one who suggests the McPherons take in the pregnant teen, Victoria: “You solitary old bastards need somebody too… You’re going to die someday without ever having had enough trouble in your life. Not of the right kind anyway.” Then she steps back and leaves them to sort things out, not because she can’t be bothered or doesn’t care, but because she understands that’s the most effective way. Her involvement with Tom Guthrie is a similar combination of the forthright and passive.StonerThe McPheron brothers reminded me strongly of the eponymous character of my (joint) favourite novel, Stoner. If Stoner had followed his more likely destiny as a son of the soil, he would have been barely distinguishable from Harold and Raymond.QuotesImportant things happen to the characters in Plainsong, but it's really about the atmosphere conjured by the landscape and language, rather than plot.Haruf’s style is perfect for dirt and dust, slanted light and shadow.• “The sun was higher, the light beginning to slide down the ladder of the windmill brightening it, making rings of rose-gold.”• “The pickup lifted a powdery plume from the road and the suspended dust shone like bright flecks of gold in the sun.”• “Her hair had been dyed, built not recently: her hair was maroon, like no human natural colour anywhere.”• “The air was turning sharp, with a fall feeling of loneliness coming. Something unaccountable pending in the air.”• “You must be lonely.”…… “They didn’t know how to say anything about that.”• A pregnancy test packet with a picture of a “young honey-haired woman with the look of religious exaltation on her face and the sunshiny garden stretching out behind”.• “The flicker of light spilled out into the side yard, where it flickered ever more faintly in a kind of illuminated echo on the dirt and dry weeds.”• “Glancing out of the window toward the place where the sun shone aslant on a few bare trees risen up along the street. It looked cold and bleak outside.”• “The trees along the curb… still showed sunlight at the tops; in the slanting afternoon sun the trees cast the thinnest of shadows as though they had been sprayed onto the street and brown grass.”• “The empty house… The broken –down neglected locust trees, shaggy barked, the overgrown yard, the dead sunflowers grown up everywhere with their heads loaded and drooping, everything dry and brown now in the late fall, dust-coated, and the sunken house itself diminished and weathered.”• “The little front room where at any time day or night, her clothes had been discarded and draped over the anonymous furniture and where… bowels of shrinking drying food had been put down at random on the bare rug.”• “The sky had turned faint and wispy and the thin blue shadow had reached across the snow.”• “Her eyes still bore a kind of wounded fierceness, as though the sadness and anger were both just below the surface.”• “Only a thin violet band of light showed in the west on the low horizon.''• “She acted as though she were happy… They watched her with their heads down and smiled when she said things.”• “They looked as stiff and motionless as… two lifelike statues of minor saints.” (Note “minor”.)• Wind “crying around the house corners, heaving and whinging in the bare trees.”• “Too humbled and embarrassed to say what it was they wanted even if they could have said exactly what it was.”• “If you can read you can cook. You can always feed yourselves. You remember that. I’m not just talking about here. When you go home too.”• “The early dark of late December. The low sky closing down.”• “All flat and sandy, the stunted stands of trees at the isolated farmhouses… The winter wheat was the only real green.”• “The freckled shade of the trees… with the sun sliding down behind them.”(It’s possible I’ve instinctively added some of the commas Haruf deliberately omitted.)This is another book I loved, that I only knew about thanks to the review of a GR friend. Thank you, Steve.

  • Dolors
    2018-12-11 22:38

    The stories displayed in this novel are simple and unadorned, both by the mundane events going on in the lives of these ordinary characters, and by the sober style of Haruf’s prose, which brings them to life. But when you sing these plain tunes together, a canon of imitations of melody, recurrent patterns and apparently disparate circumstances, compose a more colorful, richer symphony that is anything but simple.In the small community of Holt, Colorado, Tom Gurthie, a high school history teacher, is trying to endure his wife’s long-term depression while dealing with concerning issues in the classroom that might bring an untimely end to his career. His two young boys Ike and Bobby face a motherless future that forces them to enter the world of adulthood prematurely.Victoria is a teenager who is thrown out when her mother finds out that she is pregnant. The McPheron brothers, two elderly and lonely farmers, will offer her shelter and, quite unexpectedly, a solitary farmstead might become a warm, sweet home.The pace of the storyline moves forward without giving way into easy dramatizing, alternating realistic situations that invite the reader to pause and reflect on the plausible obstacles the characters confront on a daily basis and a vital cadence that pulsates underneath the toned-down narration. The scenarios the novel features might seem unrelated on the surface, but they are essentially the same when one takes a closer look, as there is nothing trivial in the tragedy that the complex business of living entails. Sorrow has a counterpart, the other side of the coin, like everything else, and even if it is not visible to the eyes; like the sun, the stars or the motes of dust that are suspended in the air, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Contentment is within our hands’ reach, if only we make an effort to feel it.This is the beauty of Haruf’s novels; this is the genius of his art, of his vision of the world. He gives enough perspective and soul to his characters to find beauty in the bigger picture, even if there are some raw, dark, cruel dots that disturb the harmony of the physical and psychological landscape that they inhabit. Generosity, delicate and charming, abounds in parenthesis amidst the commonplace suffering described in the pages of this novel; an unorthodox family might be possible in the imaginary plains of Holt that might reach mythical grandeur and will preserve the essential values of life. Well-rounded happiness is possible because there is a matching piece somewhere for every lost soul. Just keep your eyes open.

  • Lyn
    2018-12-02 21:19

    A beautiful, heartbreaking and ultimately redemptive novel.Set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado in the real life eastern plains of that Rocky mountain state, and adjacent to the great elevations, author Kent Haruf’s somber 1999 novel Plainsong explores the interconnected lives of a group of people living and dying in this western plains town.Guthrie is a high school teacher raising two young boys and whose marriage is coming to a strange and murky end. Tom Guthrie is a simple western man, trying to maintain a sense of himself and his standards in the face of many and sundry complications. Not a perfect hero, Haruf casts Tom in a realistic light, but one from which heroism is seen plainly.Tom’s sons Ike and Bobby, ten and nine years old, feel the loss of their mother in the not-understanding way that children struggle with in a separation. Haruf tells of the separation obliquely and lets the reader try to understand no doubt as real life participants also strive to make sense of relationships gone awry.Victoria Roubideaux, one of Tom’s students, is a seventeen year old who is pregnant and faces the difficulties of family and relationships with a quiet dignity of young mothers throughout history. Like Guthrie, Haruf has created in Victoria not a one dimensional, flawless heroine, but rather painted with the brush of harsh realism; but Victoria and her sweet nature is one of the most charming aspects of this book.The McPheron’s, Raymond and Harold, are two elderly bachelor brothers who operate a ranch at the edge of town. They are persuaded to take in Victoria and the relationship that forms between the three is the hard nucleus around which the novel grows.Maggie Jones is a colleague of Tom’s who provides the connection between all of the other characters. A strong and wise woman who is also described as earthy and sensuous.Haruf has created a stark landscape, and peopled that harsh world with players as tough and resilient as the first people of the plains.

  • Perry
    2018-11-23 01:21

    Three Soothing KombolóiaLike beading three kombolóia (strings of "worry beads" used in Greek culture), Kent Haruf weaved together three story threads, tight and tranquil, to bring honor to seven residents of fictional Holt, a small town on the Colorado high plains east of Denver, and their bonding together in three types of love, the familial, the philia and agape, to hurdle the predicaments life throws their way. Haruf wrote in such quiet, dulcet prose that reading his novels is calming, therapeutic. His stories salve and enrich and uplift the soul.The primary strand involves Victoria Roubideaux, a seventeen-year-old high school student whose mother threw her out of the house after learning Victoria was pregnant. A caring teacher named Maggie Jones discovers her plight and takes her in until problems arise in the living arrangements resulting from the Alzheimer's of Maggie's elderly father. Faced with this crisis, Maggie thinks of the two elderly, never-married McPheron brothers with a relatively large house on a 2,000 acre cattle ranch. These admirable, yet unrefined, men have a brusque demeanor. As the story develops, one can see their gruffness results from their timidity and strong sensitivity. Haruf infuses this relationship with a tender wit, especially in the brothers' awkwardness with Victoria. In discussing the 17-year-old, one brother tells the other: “A girl is different. They want things. They need things on a regular schedule. Why, a girl's got purposes you and me can't even imagine. They got ideas in their heads you and me can't even suppose.”Tom Guthrie teaches one of Victoria's classes. His wife, who suffers severe depression possibly compounded by drug abuse, recently abandoned Tom and their two sons, ten-year-old Ike and nine-year-old Bobby. Tom and the boys sometimes help out on the McPherons' ranch. Tom begins dating Maggie, while the boys suffer bullying from some much older boys and come face to face with mortality when they discover an elderly lady on their paper route dead one day.Haruf's supernal powers of description and observation give the novel a gentle timbre with a deep emotional subtext and Tempean evocations of nature. The discerning reader will be edified and stilled by a novel that, without any taint of mushiness or melodramatics, shows the power of love, of friends, of family and of fellow humans, to give normal people the courage to face life's troubles (Lord knows, we all have our share) and the strength to endure and mend.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2018-12-03 00:38

    I have had this book on my shelf since 2012, when I first started collecting books to read for an Around the USA challenge that I planned at that time to finish in a year. Five years later I'm still working on it (I get easily distracted) but after discussing another novel by Kent Haruf on Reading Envy, I felt compelled to move this one up the list.The story moves between different characters, and the chapters are named after the characters being followed. It is always very clear where you are! The pace is slow, but the town is a small town, and the people live small lives. It would be easy to dismiss the book, and them, if you aren't willing to pay attention. There are small beautiful parts in the writing that I really enjoyed, it was almost as if the author saw through the eyes of his characters and decided to look around for a minute. And by the end, I was completely emotionally invested in the characters, wanting them to find happiness.ETA: This sinks into you, and I ended up adding a star for the full five.

  • Dave Clapper
    2018-11-24 19:23

    Oh, what a beautiful book. Haruf's language is so deceptively simple--there's probably not a word in the book beyond sixth grade reading level. But with this simple language, he creates such beautiful, sad, lonely, human people. I'm particularly in love with the McPheron brothers, two elderly bachelor farmer brothers (and they're the single largest reason I think Nance needs to read this book).Something else about the simplicity of the language--I can't recall a single time that Haruf directly stated what a character was feeling. There were no internal dialogs, and no mentions of the words sad, happy, angry, or any of their synonyms (that I remember). Rather, Haruf simply relates their actions and their words between one another, and the reader makes a much stronger tie to what the characters are feeling. This may be the most literal rendering of the "show, don't tell" rule I've ever read.Many times, during the course of reading, I found myself pleading with the characters not to do what I knew they were going to do. But of course they did, not because a cheesy plot demanded it, but because it was the only thing these oh-so-very-real characters would do in the circumstances.The final chapter was a bit of a let-down, I have to admit--it tied things up a bit neatly for my tastes, especially considering how very, very real every moment to that point felt. But it wasn't enough of a let-down to make this anything less than a five star book. Highly, highly recommended. Beautiful, sad, human, and hopeful.

  • *TANYA*
    2018-11-24 01:29

    Very endearing characters!! The writing was great, as well as the story. I’m going to have to watch the movie to se if it’s as good as the book. Fingers crossed!!!

  • Camie
    2018-11-28 22:26

    Plainsong, a simple unadorned melody, is a perfect title for this book, Haruf's style being beautifully spare and yet powerfully moving. This award winning book takes place in a small town on the high plains of Colorado and chronicles the lives of some of it's struggling residents namely a lonely school teacher and his young sons who've been abandoned by their depressed wife and mother, a forgotten inbound widow, a caretaker and her elderly father, two rough on the exterior old bachelor brothers , and an abandoned pregnant teenage girl. This is an unflinching look at how life's harshest challenges can draw unexpected people together and strengthen them. A favorite Wailing Jenny's song " One Voice" would be a perfect soundtrack here. A great song that goes from a single sweet clear A Capella voice to that of an all encompassing three part harmony. 4.5 stars

  • Zoeytron
    2018-12-06 20:26

    This is an endearing story that is spun from the fabric of small town life in Holt, Colorado. Regular, decent folk at their finest, with just a few bad eggs thrown in for seasoning and texture. If this had been sappy in any way, I would have run for the hills, screaming. Let me assure you, there is an utter dearth of sappiness here, just a lovely story that will make your heart grow two sizes bigger. Not sure how such spare, simple writing managed to penetrate my stony exterior, but it did. I really cared about these people and the parallels contained within the pages were striking. As an aside, once upon a time, copies were made with mimeograph machines. You know, the ones with the manual crank thing and purple ink? There was a brief mention of those old ditto machines and it brought back happy memories of lifting those pieces of paper handed out by the teacher and inhaling deeply. I can almost smell it to this very day. Almost everyone did it. Really.

  • Ij
    2018-12-03 18:36

    Great story!!! Great characters!!! Great writing!!!!

  • Connie
    2018-11-23 02:45

    Haruf's writing is as comforting to me as tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a cold winter day. For a reader who has memories of an idilic growing up when I read his stories I feel like I am going home and I am so glad there are stories that can take me there. The sounds, smells, voices and memories all come alive. His prose is simple, yet so beautiful and paints such a vivid picture. His characters are earthy, there is no pretense about them, they are everyday people living ordinary lives. This story describes small town Americana down to every detail. I fall for his characters and within a few pages I am invested in the story that is unfolding in through his words. They could be my neighbors, my family....they could be me. In Plainsong, there were many characters that were easy to love.....the young people particularly. They still had a kind of awe at the world around them. The "adults" had some tarnish on them, were a bit rough about the edges due life lived, but their hearts and kindness came through. These characters have their own problems, yet as their lives intertwine in unexpected ways they form almost a family bond. There isa quietness, a wisdom and a lesson in his writing. Haruf does not write to everyone's taste. There is no action, no mystery, no mayhem nor high drama. There is a beautiful story that makes you look around and appreciate the small things that come into your life. He allows you to escape to a simpler time when life didn't seem so large and so unconquerable.

  • Carol
    2018-11-13 00:43

    One of my all time favorite books...beautifully written and favorite kind of novel. It rang so true to my Eastern Colorado roots. I felt that I personally recognized some of the characters in the story.

  • Britany
    2018-11-20 01:17

    This is the book that sneaks up on you...I didn't realize how invested I was in the characters and their stories, until the author dangles their safety and lives in front of me and I find myself reading in a frenzy to ensure that everything is ok. Sneaky, sneaky.Holt, Colorado is a small town; seemingly everybody knows everybody and everybody's business. Couple of mundane, typical stories slowly thread themselves into your heart and realize that you've come to love each and every one of them in a different way. From Victoria- the girl you want to stand up for herself, to Ike & Bobby the brothers who have seen much more than they can understand, and still protray the innocence of living in a small town. Tom & the Pheron Brothers also have a soft spot in my heart-- standing up for their beliefs and making things right.This book isn't going to wow your socks off, or make you jump on your bed for joy. It's more like that comfy go-to old blanket that you grab on a cold night to wrap around your shoulders. It felt like a story I had read before, yet couldn't quite put my finger on which one it was...

  • Carol
    2018-12-11 23:28

    In Plainsong Kent Haruf tells a dam good yarn with true-to-life characters and their everyday struggles living in rural Colorado.The two wacky and wonderful old brothers who readily welcome a 17 year old (pregnant) teen into their home captured my heart early on as well as the two young curious brothers, abandoned by their mother, who befriend a lonely old woman, experience some pretty hard knocks and learn some facts of life by peering thru the window of an abandoned old shed.While Our Souls at Night remains my favorite Haruf novel thus far, the simplicity of his writing style entices me to read more.

  • Ingrid
    2018-11-25 02:33

    I've never read anything like this before. Extraordinary. Loved it.

  • Lidia
    2018-12-05 23:41

    4,5. Me ha encantado. Es una novela de personajes, de cómo unos se van cruzando en la vida de otros, de su día a día, pero Kent Haruf consigue que los adores. He sentido debilidad por los niños, Ike y Bobby y por la chica adolescente, Victoria. Pero el resto de personajes también me ha conquistado. No creo que pudiera decir mucho más porque solo se me ocurre decir: leedlo y veréis cómo disfrutáis de Kent Haruf.Para mí ha sido uno de los descubrimientos de este año. Deseando que traduzcan el resto de sus novelas.

  • Cheryl
    2018-11-20 02:19

    A graceful, quiet yet powerful book. It is a study of small town life, told through several characters in alternating chapters. There is nothing new here -- just everyday lives with the usual problems. Some people have more good than bad in them, some have more bad than good, and a lot of people just don't know how to balance any of that. The crusty old bachelor brother farmers in particular were wonderful characters.Haruf has an extraordinary ability to create characters that speak directly from the pages. Not schmaltzy. Just lovely. Pure storywriting.

  • Ron Charles
    2018-11-12 02:23

    The glamour of the National Book Awards ceremony blows away the fusty air of the book world every November. Big publishers buy up acres of the banquet hall at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Little houses splurge a year's publicity budget on the $1,000-a-plate dinner. Even without the medals hanging from their necks, the nominees would stick out: New authors appear in ill-advised outfits, like red Nehru jackets or brocade gowns inspired by "King Lear," choices probably pushed on these quiet, pensive writers by family members who insist they live it up for once. Famous authors in their own tuxedos or black dresses with mile-long shawls look mildly bored amid a swirl of friends and flacks. Really famous nominees don't show up, ensuring the most dramatic presence of all.Kent Haruf couldn't have looked more uncomfortable amid all this glitz in 1999. A teacher at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, he was there because his third novel, "Plainsong," had been nominated. Amid the New York literati, he had the demeanor of a man who was skeptical of the hoopla, a little embarrassed by all the attention, but too humble to do anything but endure until he could get back home.The author is a good match with his work. "Plainsong" didn't win that night (the honor went to "Waiting," by Ha Jin), but it spent months on the bestseller list, gathering fans who responded to this quiet story about a little town on the High Plains east of Denver.Now comes a sequel called "Eventide" with a quarter-million first printing and a well-timed made-for-TV version of "Plainsong" broadcast last month on CBS. Mr. Haruf should prepare to be uncomfortable again: This gathering storm of publicity is entirely deserved, no matter how incongruous it is with his stark and simple tale.Readers of "Plainsong" will enter "Eventide" running, but newcomers needn't worry about picking up here. Once again, the story rotates through the lives of several families in Holt, Colo., most of whom appeared earlier. At the center are the McPheron brothers, crusty ranchers trying to keep stiff upper lips as they help Victoria and her baby pack for college. Two years ago, they took in Victoria when her mother threw her out for getting pregnant, and though the four of them made a strange and awkward family, the old men can't imagine life without her now.In town, 17 miles away from the McPheron ranch, Luther and Betty Wallace struggle to negotiate the complexities of food stamps and utility bills, child rearing and medical care. The family's precarious equilibrium is easily jostled by trouble at school or a visit from Betty's violent uncle. Their social worker never flags, though she's desperate to numb herself to the trouble in Holt County. She's always ready to serve as their counselor, financier, or chauffeur if it will keep them together, but she can't suspend the sense of doom that hovers over these mentally impaired parents.In fact, "Eventide" presents a grim sampling of family life. Eleven-year-old DJ cares for his infirm grandfather all alone, supervising the old man's monthly trips to the tavern as best he can. Next door, Mary Wells tries to maintain a pleasant home for her three little girls, but with no job and no word from her husband, the economics of survival grind away that hope.This hardscrabble story kicks up a dust cloud of melancholy that will sting even the most hardened readers' eyes. The fractured families that Haruf portrays - particularly the wary children - live in a world without any of the financial and social supports familiar to people who can drop $24.95 for a novel. A touch of maudlin pity would have soiled the effect, but Haruf never gives us the easy comfort of feeling superior.The relentless assaults of illness, meanness, or bad luck blow some of these people into oblivion. Angry cattle can maim, so can drunken uncles. But there are countervailing forces in this sparse Colorado landscape. You can see evidence in the comforting silence of the McPheron brothers' chores, in the extra effort of the Wallaces' social worker, and in neighbors' readiness to step in when routines are shattered. There are currents of affection here more persistent than strong, but ultimately capable of etching even the hard rock of these people's lives.It works only because Haruf describes their ordinary tragedies in prose that's strikingly unadorned. Their struggles are raised by this clarity to such an extraordinary vision that at the end of some chapters I was left wondering, Who in America can still write like this? Who else has such confidence and humility?Quotations don't do it justice, anymore than a tuft of prairie grass could convey the grandeur of an open plain. Every decoration has been stripped away, leaving a narrative that almost never hazards an interior thought or authorial comment, forcing the story to rest entirely on Haruf's flawless selection of detail and ear for dialogue.This is easy to do badly, as a thousand Hemingway imitators know, but Haruf never missteps, and I wish his books were required reading for anyone learning to write. Not that everyone should sound like him, of course, but his prose serves as a corrective to the super-hip, self-consciously clever storytelling that lures too many writers onto the rocks. After all, not everyone can write like Zadie Smith. (Even Zadie Smith can't always write like Zadie Smith.)"Eventide" never swells with climactic tragedy or heartrending triumph. Haruf holds the pace of his narrative to the slow passage of winter on the plains, letting moments of salvation thaw between hard frosts. But when Raymond McPheron finally finds the comfort he's lived without for so long, it's an affirmation of his nobility and patience that's utterly believable, quietly reassuring.This review first appeared in The Christian Science Monitor:

  • Mark
    2018-12-08 20:16

    This is a quietly beautiful book. I think most Americans -- and maybe others -- are suckers for well-told tales of small town life, even though small towns, and their virtues and vices, are quickly disappearing. This story has finely drawn characters and is centered on the life a high school teacher who is raising his two boys pretty much single handedly as his wife sinks into depression. But the hopeful thread of the story lives in the tale of a young woman who becomes pregnant and must seek help to avoid spiraling into rejection and poverty. The way the community handles that issue is what gives Plainsong its quiet optimism

  • Terry Everett
    2018-11-28 23:25

    remains one of my favorites of Kent Haruf

  • Dem
    2018-11-18 00:29

    3.5 stars Plainsong by Kent Haruf is a beautifully written novel and a nice easy read. This novel tells a simple story describing the lives of some of the residents in Holt, Colorado. Tom Guthrie is a history teacher at the area high school. He is left to raise two sons Ike and Bobby after his wife abandons him and their family. Victoria, a 17 year-old high school senior, is thrown out of her house by her crude and bitter mother after she had learned that her daughter is pregnant. The McPheron Brothers are two bachelors brothers who live out on their farm and who have little communication with the community.For me Plainsong was an enjoyable an easy read and I loved the characters and the atmosphere of the novel. However I did have a couple of issues with the novel and the first one was trying to figure the time setting of the story, as starting out I figured it was set perhaps 50/60s and further along I would have set it in the 80s.It did leave me a little frustrated. I also was not convinced by the relationship between Victoria and the McPheron Brothers. The fact that two elderly bachelors would take in a pregnant 17 year old girl was a little bit farfetched for me.This novel is certainly worth reading, there are no major plot twists and no real surprises however the writing is so beautiful and certainly worthy of the praise that this book has received.

  • Lualunera
    2018-12-01 02:28

    Maravilloso. Haré vídeo sobre Kent Haruf porque ha sido todo un descubrimiento 🖤

  • Carmine
    2018-11-18 18:42

    Vivere nel piccolo Niente altro che un suggestivo mosaico di vite quotidiane vissute da personaggi normalissimi: i drammi, le piccole vittorie, gli intrecci, le rivincite e le emozioni si amalgamano tra loro per restituire un acquerello intenso e pulsante di vita.La perdita dell'innocenza passa attraverso la consapevolezza di un'età adulta alle porte; l'arrendersi di fronte a certe scelte un inevitabile crocevia da cui tutti passeremo.Quest'opera racconta la vita sprofondando in essa; e, partendo dal basso, ne fa emergere tutte quelle splendide sfaccettature che la rendono meritevole di essere vissuta, nonostante tutto.

  • Mark
    2018-11-24 21:28

    Plainsong, and its sequel Eventide, are both beautifully written stories of about simple honest people trying to live their lives as best they can. I cannot overemphasize how well-written these books are. The narrator never intrudes on the story, which may be the best sign of a good writer.

  • Laura
    2018-12-07 18:45

    This was my second time reading this. My first was pre-GR. In my mind, I had this as a heartwarming story, and it is, but it's not a comfort read. There are lots of things that happen that aren't comforting, but that's reality. You'll get to know many of the residents of Holt, CO and you'll reflect on the ways we depend upon each other, and help each other. How communities pull together and take care of their own. That is the kind of read I was looking for, and I enjoyed this every bit as much the second time around. I'll be moving into the next book in the series, Eventide. And then I think I'll be looking for Haruf's other standalone novels that I've not read. There is a third book in this series that was written more recently, but I've read that recently and it didn't give me the same feeling that the first two books gave me. I'd like to experience his non-series work for the first time, and see if they ring more true to this one. Reasons to read this:1. Interesting, quirky characters (what you'd expect from a small-town work)2. Beautiful writing3. To be reminded that the word "unity" is inside the word "community"4. To spend time in Colorado farm country5. It's the first book in a series worth reading6. Never a dull moment, particularly if you become attached to the charactersSomething to be aware of:If you're sensitive to stories about farming operations, be aware two key characters (brothers) operate a small farm and raise cattle. There are no gruesome butchering scenes, but there is talk of animals calving, etc., including having troubles in the birthing process. It's not predominant but if that will bother you, now you know. IMO, this is a five-star read, but I wanted to note it.

  • Gauss74
    2018-12-06 18:34

    Per una volta, a dar retta al successo di pubblico ho fatto bene, perchè lo ho davvero amato, questo "Canto della pianura". Anche se è l'ennesimo sguardo sulla stessa America (di cui mi ero detto stanco ormai da tempo), anche se quello che aveva da dire in fin dei conti Cormac McCarthy lo aveva già detto meglio e con ben altro respiro!E allora perchè? Perchè se ci ripenso, ogni volta che si incontra la prateria in un libro (non importa se in compagnia di Philip Roth o di Cormac McCarthy piuttosto che di Alice Munro o di Stephen King - no, Steinbeck non vale, perchè lui è scrittore dell'umanità intera e non americano), sempre ci troviamo nascosto sotto qualcosa di inquietante e minaccioso, di pervertito ed inconfessabile, quasi come se mostrare il marcio sotto il tappeto sia una sorta di compiacimento della letteratura del nuovo mondo. Qui a Holt in compagnia di kent Haruf questo non accade. E non certo perchè l'intenzione sia quella di narrare una bella favola o di idealizzare il mondo contadino alla "Vecchia casa della prateria", anzi le miserie e le sofferenze che riempiono la vita della piccola cittadina sono mostrate senza veli: solo che giustamente si guarda in faccia alla parte oscura di ciascuno di noi senza farne un dramma, ma riconoscendola come parte della nostra completezza ed accettando il diuturno sforzo di combattere contro di essa, ben sapendo che non scomparirà.E' la tranquilla sicurezza di è pienamente consapevole dei propri limiti e delle proprie forze che rende così simpatici gli abitanti di Holt e così riposante questa gita alla cittadina. Certo anche Haruf cede anche lui alla tentazione di dare un significato morale a qualunque avvenimento, anche il più piccolo; certo non manca un certo manicheismo tutto quacchero (i personaggi sono tutti o troppo buoni o troppo cattivi, con la lodevolissima eccezione di Victoria Rubidoux, il personaggio meglio riuscito del romanzo), e di sicuro c'è una eccessiva idealizzazione della dura vita del cow-boy. Pure questa contemplazione consapevole ma sicura del male dentro ciascuno di noi, questa prosa scarna e tutta cose che comunque riesce a dire tutto, questo eroismo fatto di avvenimenti quotidiani rendono davvero molto piacevole la visita a Holt, Colorado.Sono davvero contento che Haruf abbia scritto una trilogia. Così ci potrò tornare.

  • Carole
    2018-12-04 21:34

    Reading a Kent Haruf novel is like comfort food in book form. His writing is so easy to read and simple, yet his characters are in depth and lovable. I'm glad I've already bought his other books, and look forward to more.