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Archive for the ‘rural lifestyles’ Tag

Life and relationships on Colorado’s Plains   Leave a comment

89884

Kent Haruf’s slow moving, methodical novels immediately embrace readers. Eventide is no exception. The setting is rural Colorado, where seasons dictate life’s pace.

Haruf reintroduces several characters from his bestselling Plainsong, including brothers Harold and Raymond McPheron, Victoria Robideaux and Colorado’s eastern plains. The McPherons, who have spent their entire lives working side by side on the family farm, have never married. Victoria, the unwed teenage mother they took in in the previous novel, is ready to leave for college with her young daughter. The impact the mother and child have had on the McPherons is tangible; their reaction to the pair leaving is parental.

Yet theirs is only part of the narrative. Holt is a small town, where, it seems, everyone is acquainted, whether personally or indirectly, with everyone else – or at least knows of their business. There’s Luther and Betty, with their two children, living on food stamps who meet regularly with a social worker, Rose. Despite her best efforts, the parents have no parenting skills and the children suffer.

Haruf describes relationships in the sparsest of terms, yet they’re vivid. Some are painful, others humorous, many loving, but all are real. For example, Betty and Luther don’t intentionally put their kids in harm’s way, but neither do they know how to protect them.

Even with the subplots involving other residents of Holt, the focus always returns to the McPherons, particularly Raymond after tragedy strikes.

Haruf uses no quotation marks and terse dialog, yet the conversations speak volumes.

Eventide
Four Bookmarks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
300 pages

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Global Issues and Self-Discovery   Leave a comment

flight

Barbara Kingsolver and Joni Mitchell have a lot in common – at least to me. I’m especially drawn to their early works. They’re prolific and both know the beauty of language. Even though they’re favorites of mine, it doesn’t mean I don’t see their foibles.

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve listened to anything by Mitchell, but I did just finish Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior. I pretty much read anything and everything she writes. Unfortunately, it didn’t wow me. It has plenty of descriptive images and the characters are interesting, but the story itself is just too predictable.

Climate change is the driving issue with the theme of understanding the world around us. Dellarobia is a young mother of two in a lackluster marriage. Just as she is about to embark on an affair, she discovers monarch butterflies have blanketed the woods on the family land in rural Tennessee. This introduces her to scientists, the media, family secrets, and herself.

Dellarobia’s an appealing character. She’s a good mother, but isn’t thrilled by being a wife thanks to her easy-going husband, Cub, and his willful, demanding parents. To counter the country folk, Kingsolver brings in the intellectual Ovid Byron, a researcher.

The gist of the story can be found in the first and last chapters. The downside to only turning those pages is that you’d miss the imagery, sarcasm ascribed to some of the characters, and the magic Kingsolver has with words. Then again, you’d get to skip the preachy tone and predictability. It might be time to listen to Joni Mitchell again.

Flight Behavior
Three-and-a-half Bookmarks
HarperCollins 2012
433 pages