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Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Plainsong (1999)

by Kent Haruf

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Plainsong (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,7211221,404 (3.98)367
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» See also 367 mentions

English (120)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (122)
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
The student states that it was really fun to read and kept you interested. Each chapter highlights the life of a different person in a small town and they relate to one another through out book in various ways. She said you never quite know what is going to happen next. The book was edgy in many ways with some explicit content. ( )
  SueHeinz | Nov 25, 2015 |
Austere, scoured by weather, a land and a people where everything is stripped bare and defined by the solitary. As the land, so the people. And so the book. Outstanding in its capture of place and people more by what is not said than what is said. 21 November 2015 ( )
  alanca | Nov 21, 2015 |
I loved the quiet gentle pace of this book and the memorable characters. I look forward to reading more by this author. ( )
  HelenBaker | Nov 16, 2015 |
I was attracted to this book by a quote on the back cover - an extract from its citation for a literary award - stating that it will "lift the reader off the ground". Now I'm not daft enough to take stuff like that literally, but levitation in any form, be it mental or physical, is not to be sneezed at. I commenced it with enthusiasm, anticipating floatation at any moment.

It was as though this author selected a group of characters, drew a line around them, and said 'these are the good people in this book, and it will be written from their point of view'. They were all nice, likeable sorts to which unfortunate things happen. Other characters are not so nice - ranging from the mildly questionable to out-and-out shits.

Having bad things happen to nice people is bound to evoke some lump in the throat scenarios, but that was really all it was. The author's simple, unadorned, matter-of-fact style sets scenarios starkly on the page, but the tendency to deal in facts rather than emotions left me cold. The book's title serves fair warning on the reader, I suppose, but I think if my feet were to leave the ground I needed to feel more emotionally involved with the characters, and I just didn't. ( )
  jayne_charles | Sep 7, 2015 |
I found this book very well written: understated with dialogue that rings true. The story was interesting, but some of the characters weren't developed well enough for me, making some of their actions seem like simple plot devices. ( )
  LynnB | Aug 15, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kent Harufprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vosmaer, MartineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Plainsong - the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times; any simple and unadorned melody or air
For Cathy And in memory of Louis and Eleanor Haruf
First words
Here was this man Tom Guthrie in Holt standing at the back window in the kitchen of his house smoking cigarettes and looking out over the back lot where the sun was just coming up.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375705856, Paperback)

Plainsong, according to Kent Haruf's epigraph, is "any simple and unadorned melody or air." It's a perfect description of this lovely, rough-edged book, set on the very edge of the Colorado plains. Tom Guthrie is a high school teacher whose wife can't--or won't--get out of bed; the McPherons are two bachelor brothers who know little about the world beyond their farm gate; Victoria Roubideaux is a pregnant 17-year-old with no place to turn. Their lives parallel each other in much the same way any small-town lives would--until Maggie Jones, another teacher, makes them intersect. Even as she tries to draw Guthrie out of his black cloud, she sends Victoria to live with the two elderly McPheron brothers, who know far more about cattle than about teenage girls. Trying to console her when she think she's hurt her baby, the best lie they can come up with is this: "I knew of a heifer we had one time that was carrying a calf, and she got a length of fencewire down her some way and it never hurt her or the calf."

Holt, Colorado, is the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone's business before that business even happens. In a way, that's true of the book, too. There's not a lot of suspense here, plotwise; you can see each narrative twist and turn coming several miles down the pike. What Plainsong has instead is note-perfect dialogue, surrounded by prose that's straightforward yet rich in particulars: "a woman walking a white lapdog on a piece of ribbon," glimpsed from a car window; the boys' mother, her face "as pale as schoolhouse chalk"; the smells of hay and manure, the variations of prairie light. Even the novel's larger questions are sized to a domestic scale. Will Guthrie find love? Will Victoria run away with the father of her baby? Will the McPherons learn to hold a conversation? But in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and Plainsong manages to capture nothing less than an entire world--fencing pliers, calf-pullers, and all. Kent Haruf has a gorgeous ear, and a knack for rendering the simple complex. --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:15 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The interwoven lives of a community in Colorado. The characters include two cattle farmers who take in a girl, thrown out of her house for becoming pregnant. The novel describes the girl's impact on their lives, both men being bachelors.

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