Kent Haruf

Sense of Place from the Radio Reader's Forum Leader

Feb 2, 2016
Karen Madorin

I’m Rebecca Koehn, Forum Leader for the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club.  I’ll be hosting discussions about the current read in the 2016 Spring Read – A Sense of Place.  We’ll be discussing Kent Haruf’s Plainsong in an on-line forum that you can join by following the simple instructions available at hppr-radio-readers-dot-org.

Plainsong is a GOOD book

Jan 31, 2016
Kathleen Holt

I hope you are enjoying our discussion of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong. I am, by profession, a teacher of English, but with a few publications in print, I like to think of myself as a creative writer. I enjoy studying novels and poetry for craftsmanship.

So.  When I read a book, especially a GOOD book, one that really touches me, resonates with me, as Plainsong does, deeply, I like to learn something about the author’s writing process, the way that he or she sets about to write.  In an interview for The Wall Street Journal, Haruf  noted that he would first read a passage from a favorite author – Chekhov, Faulkner, or Hemingway—so as to remind himself  “what a sentence can be.”  While Haruf’s admiration of these earlier modernist writers is worthy of further exploration, what’s more important to us is to appreciate what it tells us to expect about his style – it’s spare—relatively free of detail and description;  unadorned—plain, common words; yet, indirect, asking us to infer meaning.

Plainsong

Jan 20, 2016

Plainsong by Kent Haruf is the first selection for the 2016 Spring Read.    

“In the same way that the plains define the American landscape, small-town life in the heartlands is a quintessentially American experience. Holt, Colo., a tiny prairie community near Denver, is both the setting for and the psychological matrix of Haruf's beautifully executed . . . descriptions of rural existence where weather and landscape are integral to tone and mood, serving as backdrop to every scene. This is a compelling story of grief, bereavement, loneliness and anger, but also of kindness, benevolence, love and the making of a strange new family. In depicting the stalwart courage of decent, troubled people going on with their lives, Haruf's quietly eloquent account illumines the possibilities of grace.”  (From Publishers Weekly, Peter Matson, 1999)

Alfred A. Knopf

Kent Haruf, who brought to life the stories of people and town life in eastern Colorado, died at age 71 on Sunday.  His fictional town of Holt, Colorado is based on three actual towns where he grew up and is captured in his trilogy of novels “Plainsong” (1999), “Eventide” (2004), and “Benediction” (2013). 

Benediction continues the story of the small, ever-changing, ever-the-same, town of Holt, Colorado. In "Plainsong," the picture of traditional family was shifted when two brothers took in a pregnant girl who became their "daughter." "Eventide," saw the community ban together to protect a family from a violent uncle. "Benediction," brings a minister from Denver to the high plains, who challenges the community's beliefs, and Holt will never be the same.