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Benediction (Plainsong)
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Following the astonishing Plainsong and Eventide, this is Haruf's third novel set in the imaginary landscape of Holt, Colorado. One long last summer for Dad Lewis in his beloved town, Holt, Colorado.

About the Author

Kent Haruf's honors include a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He lives with his wife, Cathy, in the town of Salida in their native Colorado.

Reviews

"The precious ordinary," as one character puts it, is the central concern of this remarkable book. Benediction is quiet and nearly uneventful, but it is also unforgettable. A small rural community swims into focus as vividly as if seen through a pair of binoculars; the characters endure stoically; the emotions are largely unspoken and yet all the more moving for that, and entirely believable. In the very best sense, it is an old-fashioned novel-virtuous and kind-hearted, dealing with issues that are timeless. -- Anne Tyler
In Benediction, a fine contender for the inaugural Folio Prize, Kent Haruf's beautifully spare prose charts the events of that summer with unpretentious aplomb . . . Sensual descriptions of landscape and weather create an impression of timelessness . . . After a sudden twist, the novel ends, like the ritual after which it is named, on a note of transcendental peace. * Daily Telegraph ***** *
Haruf's characters, like Pierre and Natasha or Huck Finn, inhabit my mind permanently: they are people I think about . . . Haruf handles human relationships with fierce, reticent delicacy, exploring rage, fidelity, pity, honour, timidity, the sense of obligation; he deals with complex, barely stated moral issues, pushing perhaps towards an unspoken mysticism . . . his courage and achievement in exploring ordinary forms of love - the enduring frustration, the long cost of loyalty, the comfort of daily affection - are unsurpassed by anything I know in contemporary fiction . . . Haruf is in fact a stunningly original writer in a great many ways. The quality of his originality goes right under the radar of much conventional criticism. He doesn't posture or raise his voice. He talks quietly, intimately, yet with reserve, as one adult to another. He's careful to get the story right. And it is right, it's just right; it rings true. * Guardian *
This spring I started reading Kent Haruf. Benediction, his latest book, is about an old man who is dying of lung cancer. Haruf describes the act of dying almost like the act of giving birth: a natural process, a slipping in and out of morphine dreams, a gradual withdrawal. I wrote to Kent Haruf to tell him how much I liked his novels, for the precision of his vocabulary, for the grace that runs through his books, and for the realism. Some of his protagonists recover; others do not. There are good people and bad people, gentle rhythms infused with harsher notes. I thought, I wrote, of Laura Ingalls Wilder overlaid with Cormac McCarthy. American Wild implies loss, as well as exhilaration, and danger. All of that is there in Haruf, along with a measure of grace and peace of mind. -- Sigrid Rausing * Independent *
A brilliant end to his brilliant Plainsong trilogy. -- Lucy Mangan * Stylist *
Kent Haruf describes Dad Lewis's last summer with beautiful simplicity . . . Haruf's existing fans have been waiting patiently for Benediction for years. They won't be surprised by how fine this book is, but newcomers to his writing will be reaching for his previous novels to catch up. * Sunday Express *
In spare, Cormac McCarthy-like prose, Kent Haruf writes about facing death in modern America. * Independent on Sunday *
Haruf is the master of what one of his characters calls "the precious ordinary". . . . With understated language and startling emotional insight, he makes you feel awe at even the most basic of human gestures. -- Ben Goldstein * Esquire *
Benediction is as richly laced with metaphysics as its title suggests . . . The most affecting moments of this supremely graceful novel are conjured by farewells to the quotidian. * Times Literary Supplement *
Benediction suggests there's no end to the stories Haruf can tell about Holt or to the tough, gorgeous language he can summon in the process. * New York Times *
Truly showcases the novel as an art form. * Psychologies *
We've waited a long time for an invitation back to Holt, home to Kent Haruf's novels. . . He may be the most muted master in American fiction [and] Benediction seems designed to catch the sound of those fleeting good moments [with] scenes Hemingway might have written had he survived. -- Ron Charles * Washington Post *
His finest-tuned tale yet. . . . There is a deep, satisfying music to this book, as Haruf weaves between such a large cast of characters in so small a space. . . . Strangely, wonderfully, the moment of a man's passing can be a blessing in the way it brings people together. Benediction recreates this powerful moment so gracefully it is easy to forget that, like [the town of] Holt, it is a world created by one man. -- John Freeman * The Boston Globe *
Reverberant... From the terroir and populace of his native American West, the author of Plainsong and Eventide again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions. -- Brad Hooper * Booklist *
Haruf is maguslike in his gifts. . . to illuminate the inevitable ways in which tributary lives meander toward confluence. . . . Perhaps not since Hemingway has an American author triggered such reader empathy with so little reliance on the subjectivity of his characters. . . . [This] is a modestly wrought wonder from one of our finest living writers. -- Bruce Machart * The Houston Chronicle *
Grace and restraint are abiding virtues in Haruf's fiction, and they resume their place of privilege in his new work. . . . For readers looking for the rewards of an intimate, meditative story, it is indeed a blessing.' -- Karen R. Long * The Cleveland Plain Dealer *
As Haruf's precise details accrue, a reader gains perspective: This is the story of a man's life, and the town where he spent it, and the people who try to ease its end. . . . His sentences have the elegance of Hemingway's early work [and his] determined realism, which admits that not all of our past actions or the reasons behind them are knowable, even to ourselves, is one of the book's satisfactions.' -- John Reimringer * The Minneapolis Star-Tribune *
There's something of the tone of Joyce's Dubliners in Haruf's simply-told tale of elderly Dad Lewis, diagnosed with cancer and living out his last summer. An elegiac tone, of someone who has already gone, gives Haruf's prose its extraordinary dignity and humanity. * Sunday Herald *

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