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Kent Haruf’s Blessings   2 comments

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Kent Haruf’s Plainsong is among my favorite books. I haven’t read any of his other works for fear, I think, I’d be disappointed. After reading Benediction, one of the author’s last works before his death in late 2014, I realize I had no cause for worry.

Set in the (fictional) rural town of Holt, Colo., this is an agreeably slow-moving, intimate portrait of the bonds between families and community. The first paragraph sets the tone: Dad Lewis, a long-time resident of Holt and owner of the hardware store, receives the news that he’s dying of cancer. In his dying days, his grown daughter returns home to help; longtime friends and neighbors drop in to visit; and a few flashbacks surface to help tell the story of an imperfect man, beloved by his wife and daughter, estranged from his son, who tried to do his best.

The beauty of Haruf’s writing is that he provides just enough detail to hold the reader’s attention without overwhelming the imagination. That is, situations appear with gaps of information like potholes on a dirt road. Eventually, they get filled.

Interactions with those Dad has known for years intersect with a few new residents to Holt: the preacher and his family, including an angry teenage son and an even angrier wife. The young granddaughter of the woman across the street is another significant character. It would be heavy handed to feature a new-born, but Haruf’s circle of life is gripping, lyrical and not at all mawkish.

Benediction

Four Bookmarks
Knopf, 2013
258 pages

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2 responses to “Kent Haruf’s Blessings

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  1. Sounds interesting and a lot like Have you heard of these? She got Pulitzer and of course i liked because it took place in Iowa. My son-in-law put me in to her. Also took me awhile to get into but have you read any Annie Dillard – her Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is amazing. Think it is Pulitzer, too. Looking forward to seeing you. Want to hear all about your trip. Sounds sooo fun. So glad you got to do it. You have put a lot of parenting years in!!! Make it a Blessed Day Dot

    >

    dotpurvis@gmail.com

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