I first read Kent Haruf's Plainsong a few years ago. It was recommended to me by a man I didn't know at all, another parent sitting at our kids' gymnastics class in California. Every week, I'd read, and he'd sit on his phone. He asked once what I was reading, and I asked what his favorite book was: Plainsong.
Somewhere along the way, a few years later, I acquired that book and let it linger (like so many do) on my bookshelf.
In Arizona, I picked it up and tried to read it no less than 10 times. I just could not get into it. But I kept it by the bathtub. Since I take a bath every single night, if I didn't have the foresight to bring another book, Plainsong was my only option.
After a few nights, I was hooked. Suddenly, what seemed a little boring and tedious turned into this incredibly rich story. Plainsong remains one of my top 10 favorite books of all time.
I was, as you can imagine, hesitant to pick up Eventide, the sequel to Plainsong.
Would it be as good? Did Haruf only strike gold once? Would the writing and story compel me as much now that I was in another state, with another life, etc. etc. etc.
All I can say is that Haruf is a gift, and I'm sad (truly) that he's gone. Eventide was brilliant.
Here are 10 thoughts on Eventide:
1. Haruf's writing reminds me a lot of Hemingway, so if you love terse, honest prose, you'll love Haruf.
2. The Mcpherson brothers are two of my favorite literary characters ever, and I fell in love with them and had my heart broken, too.
3. Haruf's dialogue is masterful.
4. Eventide is a perfect example of the old saying: show don't tell.
5. I cared about all of the characters in this book. I hated some and loved others. But I was never indifferent.
6. I never skim Haruf's books. I'm sometimes tempted. I want to know what happens next. But I'm also fully aware that if I skim, I might miss the most beautiful sentence, phrase or little collection of words. Haruf's writing is equal to the story, which is (in my opinion) rare. One doesn't shine more than the other.
7. One of my favorite sentences is on page 86: So insubstantial and paltry that the wind might blow through and find no resistance at all.
8. Haruf shows people at their most vulnerable, at their worst, making horrible decisions and wonderful decisions. In short, he shows people being people, the very humanness of who we are, and I think that's why we feel so much when we read his writing.
9. The theme of Eventide seems (to me) to be that we all need each other, in so many ways. That when we lose each other and turn inward (literally and figuratively), that is when we sink. This resonates with me and means a lot to me, maybe because I've moved so often or because with technology, we are all turning a little bit inward in ways that make me sad.
10. This book, like Plainsong, makes me want to hold my people closer.
I obviously loved this book, and picking up other novels since has been difficult.
Haruf's writing is classic, simple and never pulls you out of the story. It's like a woman in a simple black dress, sitting in a corner, quiet and unassuming.
Then you see another woman walk by, her dress too tight, wobbling in her heels, a smear of mascara under her eyes and a cocktail in hand.
That's how I feel about reading anything else right now.
I guess I need a literary palate cleanser. :)
Anyway, loved Eventide. I'd love to hear if anyone else has read it and what you thought.
It's the first day of summer break for our son, and I'm inducting him into housewife life by letting him accompany me to Jazzercise. I know. So good of me.
We've already spotted a few deer in the backyard and had to discuss why we leave the babies alone and never touch them. He was solemn as I explained this.
Who knows what else will become of us. I plan to cook with my kids a bit this summer and to enjoy some family meals now that soccer season is over. Ballet picks up again soon, but I'll at least have one child home for a meal.
I hope everyone is having a bright week so far.