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Plainsong (1999)

by Kent Haruf

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Plainsong (1), Holt cycle (3)

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4,8641831,609 (4)602
A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.
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» See also 602 mentions

English (171)  Italian (4)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (182)
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
The story of Tom Guthrie and his two young sons, and of Victoria Roubideaux, a pregnant teen who is given shelter by two elderly brothers, Harold and Raymond McPheron.

I found the extreme plainness of the style rather affected for much of this book and it was only when the feud between Tom Guthrie and the Bowmans started to escalate and when Victoria decided to come back to Holt from Denver that I really got interested in the characters and the story. I spent much of the book wondering how the two narrative threads were going to link up, and even at the end I felt they hadn't really. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Nov 24, 2020 |
Mostly a sleepy mid-west American story about a few interesting characters in the town. And as much as it is sleepy, it also has some serious scenes (graphic and disturbing, but realistic and not sensationalized) to make this story more than just a sleepy pastoral book.
What is this book about? A father and his two sons after his wife moves out to deal with her depression; a pregnant teen who finds herself couch surfing after her own mother kicks her out; two bachelor brothers who take in the girl; the father who tries to stand up to a school slacker and his bully family (plus a few other characters and subplots). Really, I think the book is about parenthood, the comparison of mothers (mostly bad in this book) and fathers (mostly good), and how sometimes the best parents are not the ones we expect. I'm putting it rather simplistically, but this is not a literary essay. (The book would make a good option for a gr 12 English assignment or a book club discussion, however). Decent, but I don't expect to pick up the next one anytime soon. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Nov 22, 2020 |
There are a number of reasons why I loved this novel. I have spent the majority of my life in Colorado. It is home. This story is set in a small town in Colorado. My wife grew up in a small town in Nebraska. Through her and getting to know her family, I have taken a liking to small-town life even though I have never lived in a small town nor do I think I would ever really want to. I also loved Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool, which was set in a small town. And the McPheron brothers from Plainsong were right there with Sully from Nobody's Fool in terms of characters I loved.

The story lines in Plainsong match the setting, simple, believable, yet enough to wrap your heart around. And the prose matches the story in its simplicity, but can be lyrical when describing the town of Holt and the surrounding countryside. The characters, significant and minor, are memorable. Harold and Raymond McPheron, innocent, naive and wise, made me laugh out loud so many times that my wife was wondering what was going on. So sad it had to end. Isn't that always the case with the best ones? ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
Beautiful story without a defined plot, but there was no need for one as the characters are enough. The writing is simple, with no quotation marks, but done so perfectly I didn't notice. The McPheron brothers, how can you not love them? ( )
  almin | Sep 7, 2020 |
Vivid, true-to-life novel of life in a small town in Colorado in perhaps the 1980s. The story is told in chapters alternating among various inhabitants: Tom Guthrie, a high school teacher and his two young sons; Victoria, a pregnant out-of-wedlock teenager; Maggie, another teacher and the McPheron brothers, two old bachelor cattlemen. Exquisite prose, in which all through I could see people and events before my eyes. It reminded me somewhat of Saroyan's Human comedy and of Lake Wobegon, although after the first half the novel turned darker and menacing in spots. Most of the sexual situations I just skipped over, not because of any gratuitousness but they were just not to my personal taste.

Highly recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Aug 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kent Harufprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carey, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pera, MartaTranslatorsecondary authorsome 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.
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Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.

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