Reading Haruf

Haruf is on fire

A few years ago, I picked up a book called Plainsong by Kent Haruf. The writing was brilliant. I had a difficult time putting it down.

But there was a problem.

The book touched too many ragged nerves. It was a painful read for me. Never before and never since have I read a book that did just that thing to me.

Until this week when I picked up the sequel. It’s called Eventide. It’s been on my shelf for a good long time, waiting for me to be ready. To be a little more emotionally solid.

I opened the cover, sighed, started the read. I was right back in Holt, Colorado with characters who had endured so much in Plainsong. But they had a whole lot more to live through in Eventide.

After reading a few chapters, I was exhausted. Truly worried. Wishing the characters could avoid pain and loss and betrayal.

Only a handful of books have earned my tears. This was one of them.

As was Plainsong.

It wasn’t until the end of the story that redemption arrived on scene.

Here’s the thing. The redemption isn’t offered up on a platter with a sweet rose design along the edges. It was served up on a rusted bit of metal. The way I think true-to-life redemption commonly is. Because it isn’t the dish that matters. Not one bit. It’s the change, the salvation, the love.

This book isn’t for everyone. As a matter of fact, that can be said for every book. If you look for an escape while reading, don’t turn to this one. Haruf doesn’t allow for that. Fluff? Not here. A happily-ever-after ending? No.

But, if you are interested in a book that will make you feel, then read Kent Haruf.

His books are at one moment a kick in the ribs and the next the tenderness of an arm around the shoulders.

How about you? Ever read a book like that? Did you keep reading or did you throw it across the room? I love to hear what you have to say. 

3 Comments on “Reading Haruf

  1. One book that immediately came to mind was Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. It addresses the pain of apartheid in South Africa. Deeply challenging.


  2. I read a book like that it was called “My Mother’s Chamomile.” Truly. And others, the problem with those is that I can NEVER STOP thinking about them. But maybe one of the most beautiful was a book called “A parchment of Leaves.”


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