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Plainsong by Kent Haruf
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Plainsong (1999)

by Kent Haruf

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Plainsong (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,8311321,347 (3.98)414
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» See also 414 mentions

English (130)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
A surprisingly heartwarming story. I was expecting a sad, depressing story based on the description on the back of this book, but I was happily surprising to find a much more complex tale. The character of the Victoria, a pregnant teenager, really resonated for me and I felt gripped by her story as it unfolded. Overall, this is a compelling portrait of a small town in Colorado and a solid piece of literature. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Mar 27, 2016 |
"Plainsong - the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times; any simple and unadorned melody or air"

Haruf's beautifully understated prose corresponds perfectly with the title: simple, unadorned, melodic. The characters are presented perfectly, in all their imperfections. For some people life has many negatives, but in this mesmerizing novel Haruf shows that positives shine. ( )
  VivienneR | Mar 25, 2016 |
A lovely story of family and community. We meet various residents of the town of Holt and see them through the personal crises of their lives. The dialog is written in a curious style which took a little getting used to, but I think it suits the story. It is in no way twee but will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling nonetheless. Family is about more than just blood, family is community, and with it we can achieve anything. Religion isn't mentioned at all but it reminded me of my church family in the way we care for each other cross culturally and cross generationally. ( )
  eclecticdodo | Mar 22, 2016 |
Interesting story line, not complex, picked because of the Colorado connection. But no quote marks for the dialogue is a real problem for ease of reading. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (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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Epigraph
Plainsong - the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times; any simple and unadorned melody or air
Dedication
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.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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.

» see all 4 descriptions

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