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9780375406188

Plainsong

Haruf, Kent

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9780375406188: Plainsong

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.
In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl -- her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house -- is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.

From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together -- their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.

Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a novel to care about, believe in, and learn from.

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Review:

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

From the Back Cover:

advance praise for Plainsong

"Kent Haruf's new novel Plainsong is nothing short of a revelation. I don't expect to read a better novel this year. Or next, for that matter."

--Richard Russo

"I read Plainsong in one sitting, unwilling--unable--to look up until I'd finished. Kent Haruf has given us a pure blessing of a book: a novel of such sheer sweet amplitude, grace and humanity."

--Beverly Lowry

"Plainsong is the marvelous story of how seven extraordinary members of a tiny prairie community--two dedicated teachers, two young boys wise beyond their years, a pair of wonderfully idiosyncratic rancher brothers and a pregnant high school girl--come together, in the face of great difficulties, to form the most appealing extended family in contemporary fiction. With Plainsong, Kent Haruf has written an American masterwork: a profound, witty, warmhearted and tough-minded account of a place where family and community still come first. Plainsong is the best new novel I've read since Cold Mountain."

--Howard Frank Mosher

"Plainsong is a beauty, as spare and heartbreaking as an abandoned homestead cabin, always tough but humane, never sentimental. I loved the prose, as bright and hard as the winter sun sparkling off a sandy snowbank, and the characters, scrubbed to their essentials by the extremes of the Great Plains weather. It's a story that draws the reader like a heat mirage."

--James Crumley

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Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl -- her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house -- is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known. From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together -- their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition. Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a novel to care about, believe in, and learn from. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0375406182

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Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 1999. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition, 7th Printing. BRAND NEW Copy. This is the 7th Printing, also of 1999. A contemporary novel set once again in the town of Holt in eastern Colorado by native-son and award winning author Kent Haruf (1943 - ). The happenings are not all that unusual . a highschool teacher raising two sons on his own, a pregnant and now homeless teenage girl, and two bachelor, farmer brothers find their lives interwined . but the very rhythm and dignity of their way of life is a song to humanity. Bookseller Inventory # 007884

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