Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kent Haruf is Back, with Benediction

I remember vastly enjoying Kent Haruf's novels Plainsong and Eventide, and was thrilled to learn that Haruf recently published a new work of fiction called Benediction.  The backdrop, as is the case in several of Haruf's other novels, is a small town called Holt located in the high plains of Colorado.  This story centers around the life and approaching death of Dad Lewis who has only a short time left to live as he is dying of terminal cancer.  It is interesting how I just happened to read this book after reading A Death in the Family, which also focuses on the death of a patriarch in a small town, though nearly a century earlier.  With simple, graceful language, Haruf introduces us to a diverse cast of characters that surround the protagonist and intersect with his life in different ways, including a preacher that is new to town and his wife and son, an elderly neighbor and her daughter, and Dad's immediate family, his wife Mary, daughter Lorraine, and estranged son Frank.  This work highlights some moving small moments and gestures, as well as gives one a sense of the importance of community and neighbors in small town life.  I did not enjoy Benediction as much as Haruf's earlier works, but it is well worth reading nonetheless. 

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