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Plainsong - eBook

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<p>National Book Award Finalist</p> <p>A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.</p> <p>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.</p>

Customer Review Snapshot

4.3 out of 5 stars
81 total reviews
5 stars
42
4 stars
28
3 stars
9
2 stars
1
1 star
1
Most helpful positive review
Six-word review: Caring about others makes people beautiful. Extended review: A young girl, pregnant, alone. Two curious young boys and their father, deserted by their depressed mother. A couple of old bachelor farmers who know cattle better than people. A woman who knows all of them. Ordinary people, ordinary lives in a small town in the high plains of Colorado, working as they must, coping with loss, enjoying their small pleasures, doing their best. Loving what and whom they love, and dealing with trouble as squarely and pragmatically as they can. In place of an epigraph between the title page and the half title page, we see this: Plainsong--the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times; any simple and unadorned melody or air. The language is spare but unsparing. We see and feel with the characters as they face life, love, and death. There are experiences here that we haven't seen elsewhere, and they feel as real as memories. One of the beauties of this book is that the heroine, if there is one at all, never steps into the foreground. She's just there, quietly doing what her heart tells her, making a difference. She rarely comes into full focus. And yet her role is crucial. I like how the author handled that, without fanfare. I also like his handling of the antagonist, without the contrived solutions of a conventional dramatic arc. This book is a simple and unadorned melody set in the Great Plains of the western U.S., and, like the characters mirrored here, deeper and more complex than it appears on the surface.

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National Book Award Finalist

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.

Plainsong - eBook

Specifications

Read This On
Android,Ereader,Desktop,IOS,Windows
Is Downloadable Content Available
Y
Digital Reader Format
Epub (Yes)
Language
en
Series Title
Vintage Contemporaries
Publisher
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Author
Kent Haruf
ISBN-13
9780375726934
ISBN-10
0375726934

Customer Reviews

5 stars
42
4 stars
28
3 stars
9
2 stars
1
1 star
1
Most helpful positive review
10 customers found this helpful
Six-word review: Cari...
Six-word review: Caring about others makes people beautiful. Extended review: A young girl, pregnant, alone. Two curious young boys and their father, deserted by their depressed mother. A couple of old bachelor farmers who know cattle better than people. A woman who knows all of them. Ordinary people, ordinary lives in a small town in the high plains of Colorado, working as they must, coping with loss, enjoying their small pleasures, doing their best. Loving what and whom they love, and dealing with trouble as squarely and pragmatically as they can. In place of an epigraph between the title page and the half title page, we see this: Plainsong--the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times; any simple and unadorned melody or air. The language is spare but unsparing. We see and feel with the characters as they face life, love, and death. There are experiences here that we haven't seen elsewhere, and they feel as real as memories. One of the beauties of this book is that the heroine, if there is one at all, never steps into the foreground. She's just there, quietly doing what her heart tells her, making a difference. She rarely comes into full focus. And yet her role is crucial. I like how the author handled that, without fanfare. I also like his handling of the antagonist, without the contrived solutions of a conventional dramatic arc. This book is a simple and unadorned melody set in the Great Plains of the western U.S., and, like the characters mirrored here, deeper and more complex than it appears on the surface.
Most helpful negative review
1 customers found this helpful
Hated this sooo much a...
Hated this sooo much and didn't get far in. The book rotates between Guthrie, a teacher; his two young sons Ike and Bobby; a pregnant teen Victoria and two elderly bachelor brothers, the McPherons, in small town Holt, Colorado. The author writes the dialogue without quotation marks. Now, believe it or not, I love it when authors play with style and interweaving narratives. I loved Chaon's Await Your Reply with seeming unconnected narrative strands that eventually come together. I just finished Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and loved how it used its style to tell its story--it's quirky structure and syntax had a purpose. I felt the same about McInerney Bright Lights, Big City, a novel told entirely in second person. I have a friend who is a writer and loves that point of view because she says it is a great way to convey a damaged character. In this case, I couldn't see any purpose to omitting quotation marks except raising a flag that says "See, I'm a genius! See how iconoclastic I am!" Eccentric styles like this one can be bearable in a short poem or story but a novel of this length? One so otherwise dull and plodding? What I saw was something that was a pain to read without enough payoff--so I stopped about a third way through.
Most helpful positive review
10 customers found this helpful
Six-word review: Cari...
Six-word review: Caring about others makes people beautiful. Extended review: A young girl, pregnant, alone. Two curious young boys and their father, deserted by their depressed mother. A couple of old bachelor farmers who know cattle better than people. A woman who knows all of them. Ordinary people, ordinary lives in a small town in the high plains of Colorado, working as they must, coping with loss, enjoying their small pleasures, doing their best. Loving what and whom they love, and dealing with trouble as squarely and pragmatically as they can. In place of an epigraph between the title page and the half title page, we see this: Plainsong--the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times; any simple and unadorned melody or air. The language is spare but unsparing. We see and feel with the characters as they face life, love, and death. There are experiences here that we haven't seen elsewhere, and they feel as real as memories. One of the beauties of this book is that the heroine, if there is one at all, never steps into the foreground. She's just there, quietly doing what her heart tells her, making a difference. She rarely comes into full focus. And yet her role is crucial. I like how the author handled that, without fanfare. I also like his handling of the antagonist, without the contrived solutions of a conventional dramatic arc. This book is a simple and unadorned melody set in the Great Plains of the western U.S., and, like the characters mirrored here, deeper and more complex than it appears on the surface.
Most helpful negative review
1 customers found this helpful
Hated this sooo much a...
Hated this sooo much and didn't get far in. The book rotates between Guthrie, a teacher; his two young sons Ike and Bobby; a pregnant teen Victoria and two elderly bachelor brothers, the McPherons, in small town Holt, Colorado. The author writes the dialogue without quotation marks. Now, believe it or not, I love it when authors play with style and interweaving narratives. I loved Chaon's Await Your Reply with seeming unconnected narrative strands that eventually come together. I just finished Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and loved how it used its style to tell its story--it's quirky structure and syntax had a purpose. I felt the same about McInerney Bright Lights, Big City, a novel told entirely in second person. I have a friend who is a writer and loves that point of view because she says it is a great way to convey a damaged character. In this case, I couldn't see any purpose to omitting quotation marks except raising a flag that says "See, I'm a genius! See how iconoclastic I am!" Eccentric styles like this one can be bearable in a short poem or story but a novel of this length? One so otherwise dull and plodding? What I saw was something that was a pain to read without enough payoff--so I stopped about a third way through.
1-5 of 81 reviews

Spare. Rich. Elegant. ...

Spare. Rich. Elegant. Quiet. Lovely. Never mind that some of those adjectives seem to contradict each other. So many books want to show you a slice of life; this one succeeds. Haruf may not have written a revolutionary novel, but it is a deeply good and satisfying one. This is one of those books that has themes - isolation, community, decency - without being about the themes. Instead, it is about the characters who, with perhaps one exception, seem lifted from everyday life. When you try to tell the story, they seem archetypical, maybe even trite: the pregnant teenager cast out by her mother, the kind-hearted teacher, the crotchety but kind old men. But it is Haruf's talent that they do not read that way. Instead of having that artificiality...instead of seeming fabricated solely for the purposes of build up through denouement...it felt like they had existed before the story ever started and had lives that went on long after the final page was done. Very little happens in Plainsong. Very little gets resolved in Plainsong. But the word that keeps coming to mind is resonant. It's a word that I think is horribly overused when talking about books but, in this case, seems appropriate to me. Perhaps the simplest way to express my feelings is that, upon finishing, I immediately ordered Eventide.

I have just finished t...

I have just finished the spell bounding Plainsong by Kent Haruf and I don't believe that I can write anything about this book that will do it justice. In the setting of a small rural Colorado town, the author tears back the layers to reveal the inner lives of various residents and in doing so shows us how valuable and needed family ties are, but also, and more importantly, that these family ties need not be connected by blood. Heartstrings are truly pulled when lonely, isolated pregnant teenager, Victoria, is assisted by her teacher and put together with the older, crusty bachelor McPheron brothers. We can see the healing begin and a sense of family start to bud. We also read of the Guthrie family, high school teacher Tom and his two small sons, Ike and Bobby abandoned by their mother, learning to bond together to create a family that is secure and safe. Woven throughout the story are such wonderful, true to life characters such as Iva Stearns whom the boys at first fear but grow to rely on for comfort and conversation, and strong, confident Maggie Jones, another teacher, she looks beyond the surface of people and seems to know what they need even before they do themselves. Of course, not all the residents of this town are kind and thoughtful, just like real life, there those who are selfish and do more harm than good to others. The author weaves his story around these struggling characters who learn to reach out and help one another. The story never crosses the line into becoming too emotional or overdone, the author's writing is candid, under embellished and quite beautiful. I found Plainsong to be an uplifting experience, a simple, straight forward story that speaks to the heart.

They set out in the b...

"They set out in the bright cold day, riding in the pickup, the girl seated in the middle between them with a blanket over her lap, with the old papers and sales receipts and fencing pliers and the hot wire testers and the dirty coffee mugs all sliding back and forth across the dashboard whenever they made any sharp turn, driving north toward Holt ..." (178) Plainsong is one of those rare gems that comes along unexpectedly and immediately connects, refusing to be put down. Sparely written, rich, and exquisite, it is evocative of the humanity which unites us - flawed but ultimately decent. In Holt, Colorado, high school teacher, Tom Guthrie, lives with his young sons Ike and Bobby. His wife and the children's mother has retreated from her family, isolating herself in a darkened spare room before finally leaving for Denver. Victoria Roubideaux, a pregnant teenager, has been banished her from home by her mother - perhaps as a punishment to her absent father. Maggie Jones, another of Holt's high school teachers, takes Victoria in for a time; but her aging and demented father prevents the arrangement from being more than temporary. Unexpectedly, the teen will find home with the elderly McPheron brothers, Harold and Raymond, bachelor, gentlemen farmers. Haruf's characters, relatable and unremarkable in and of themselves, are richer for their relationships with one another. And we are reminded that the notion of family is not limited to blood ties - sometimes, it is much, much more. Haruf is a new favourite author for me! Those who appreciate spare, quiet prose and a story driven by characters and setting will enjoy Plainsong - think Gerbrand Bakker's The Twin. Most highly recommended! "... the country flat and whitepatched with snow and the wheat stubble and the cornstalks sticking up blackly out of the frozen ground and the winter wheat showing in the fall-planted fields as green as jewelry. Once they saw a lone coyote in the open, running, a steady distance-covering lope, its long tail floating out behind like a trail of smoke. Then it spotted the pickup, stopped, started to move again, running hard now ..." (178)

Six-word review: Cari...

Six-word review: Caring about others makes people beautiful. Extended review: A young girl, pregnant, alone. Two curious young boys and their father, deserted by their depressed mother. A couple of old bachelor farmers who know cattle better than people. A woman who knows all of them. Ordinary people, ordinary lives in a small town in the high plains of Colorado, working as they must, coping with loss, enjoying their small pleasures, doing their best. Loving what and whom they love, and dealing with trouble as squarely and pragmatically as they can. In place of an epigraph between the title page and the half title page, we see this: Plainsong--the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times; any simple and unadorned melody or air. The language is spare but unsparing. We see and feel with the characters as they face life, love, and death. There are experiences here that we haven't seen elsewhere, and they feel as real as memories. One of the beauties of this book is that the heroine, if there is one at all, never steps into the foreground. She's just there, quietly doing what her heart tells her, making a difference. She rarely comes into full focus. And yet her role is crucial. I like how the author handled that, without fanfare. I also like his handling of the antagonist, without the contrived solutions of a conventional dramatic arc. This book is a simple and unadorned melody set in the Great Plains of the western U.S., and, like the characters mirrored here, deeper and more complex than it appears on the surface.

Why did it take me so ...

Why did it take me so long to get my hands on this book? I actually think I had it confused with another title, until some recent LibraryThing "buzz" caused me to take a closer look. And it was brilliant. Plainsong is about the lives of ordinary people living in fictional Holt County, Colorado. Each short chapter focuses on one of the central characters, which include high school teacher Tom Guthrie, Tom's young sons Ike & Bobby, 17-year-old Victoria Robideaux, and the cattle-farming McPheron brothers. Everyone is dealing with the cards life has dealt them, both good and bad, and everyone seems to have a burden to carry, alone. But gradually, their lives intersect, those burdens become shared, and the world is a better place as a result. Others have compared Kent Haruf's writing to Marilynne Robinson (author of Gilead and Home), whose work I also love. Both authors have a way of immersing the reader in a slow, quiet story with surprising emotional impact. And Haruf's setting and characterizations are marvelous. I could picture the town, and feel the cold winter wind whipping across the prairie. My heart went out to characters dealing with troublesome life events, and I wanted to hug the McPheron brothers as their lives became richer by caring for others. I'm glad there are two more books in this series, because I'd be happy to sit a spell in Holt County.

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Electrode, Comp-283036172, DC-prod-dfw8, ENV-prod-a, PROF-PROD, VER-30.0.3, SHA-fe0221a6ef49da0ab2505dfeca6fe7a05293b900, CID-b1f279e7-d5c-16e6d6c5140ffa, Generated: Fri, 15 Nov 2019 04:57:25 GMT