Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Plainsong by Kent Haruf


Wow, it has been a long while since I wrote a review. I didn't forget about you all, though. I've still been reading, though, so I'm five books behind. I'll be knocking these out in the next week or so to try to get up to date. I'm going to be changing to a briefer reviewing format to try to not get back in this situation again. Since I won't be providing as much detail in the reviews, feel free to email or tweet me with any questions on the novels. As always, thank you for reading and continue to feel free to send me any recommendations for stuff you've enjoyed recently!


Plainsong, written by Kent Haruf, tells the interconnected story of a handful of individuals' live who live in the rural plains of Colorado. In typical small town manner, the lives of each of these individuals touches each others', providing a very human, touching picture of a type of living that most of us readers don't even know exists. Plainsong is almost devoid of a plot, instead focusing on letting us "know" the characters and what drives them. This is a gritty novel that is at times very emotional.

The dreariness and featureless-ness of the plains both provides the backdrop for the story-telling and at the same time is the defining factor in what makes the characters tick. The writing style reflects this setting, forgoing eloquent, grandiose prose and instead relying on terse, short sentences that drive straight to the point. This is an amazingly touching novel. Too often we "city slickers" poke fun at the real rural community for its supposed uneducated and backward nature. It's too easy to forget that these individuals are not caricatures, but real people with real problems. While their problems are certainly different than ours, they are just as real and, many time, far, far less trivial. This is easily one of the best books I've read this year and give it my highest recommendations.

You'll like it if you like: Cormac McCarthy (but with a heart), human interest pieces, character building, concise writing styles, small towns drama, emotionally-driven works.

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