Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Plainsong - Kent Haruf

Picture this. Me. It's yesterday morning. I've just finished back-to-back reading the Age of Unreason series by Greg Keyes which had itself followed on from Karen Miller's Mage duology. I need a Change of Pace. A break from SFF. I also need to make inroads on the TBRs as all the above don't count as they were library books. I picked up Plainsong by Kent Haruf. Hrm. Not sure. Could be a bit worthy. What the hell - Scot Pack liked it when he read it recently so I'll give it a bash. Can't hurt... Stay up in bed reading it until finished. Blimey. That was good.

I just can not believe that I let it sit untouched on my TBR pile for five months. This is a serious contender for May's Bookling POTM and it'll have to be a pretty special book that knocks it off the top spot.

In Plainsong, "The story weaves together several characters: pregnant 17-year-old Victoria Roubideaux; the McPherons, an elderly pair of cattle rancher brothers who take Victoria in; Tom Guthrie with his two young sons 'Ike and Bobby, who've been abandoned by their depressed mother; and a high school teacher who knows them all, Maggie Jones."

An aside: Interesting that I used speech marks for the quote I lifted, as Haruf's own approach to punctuation disregards their use entirely. This is not as irritating as it sounds.

Plainsong is a deceptively simple, spare telling of these characters day to day lives and their intersection with each other in the rural community of Holt. Nothing unexpected happens, you can see what's going to happen to the characters and the plot itself almost non-existent. But it's all so beautifully written. All of the people, and the situations they find themselves in, are so very real and it was heartbreaking to watch them do or say things that you know will bring them unnecessary pain. This is such a beautifully written book and I shall be making people read it. Possibly while I watch.

Kent Haruf is an absolute master storyteller and I see that he revisits some of these characters in Eventide so I'll have to tell Mr B to add "just one more book" to the birthday demands list. Or perhaps two if I also include Tie That Binds...

4 comments:

Scott Pack said...

There are two T's in Scott but I will let you off as you enjoyed Plainsong so much.

Might I suggest you try some Charles Baxter when you get a chance?

Peta said...

Oh noes - the shame of spelling a name incorrectly when it is something that drives me mad. Deepest apologies and I'm glad you let me off. As "penance" I shall investigate Charles Baxter and make sure that I add him to my TBR pile.

Kanani said...

I loved Plainsong too. I went right out and bought Eventide. Again, he's a wonderful writer, a great storyteller.

Peta said...

I've not bought Eventide as yet but will absolutely do so, as I keep thinking about the characters even now and wondering if they are OK.