Haruf, Kent

  22 Reviews

Holt, Colorado. Population: nobody is counting. Tom Guthrie, local schoolteacher learning to manage without his wife and mother of his sons Ike and Bobby, Maggie Jones helping teenager Victoria Roubideaux find refuge in the home of confirmed bachelors and cattle farmers Raymond and Harold McPherson; ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. However, poetic evocations of landscape and weather ensure this beautifully rendered story of quintessential small town America is far from ordinary.

As simple and as unadorned as its title suggests, it is a quiet celebration of the power of community and the presence of grace. [Small font]

Comments from Groups

We all really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy. Palmerston North 031

Exceptionally well received - some gave it a "10'!! Auckland 287

A beautiful book. Well structured and lives up to its title. Enjoyed by all and highly recommended. Thames 002

We all liked this book - the style of writing, and the picture it portrayed of small town America. We found the title very apt - there were no emotional highs or lows, despite the individual dramas. It all continued on the same note. Whitby 002

We all enjoyed this story of small town US. We could relate to it as we live in a small town here. Once we were used to the lack of speech marks, the story of the people of Holt became absorbing with its simple and unadorned story-telling language. Lives of ordinary people rendered extraordinary by the quality of the spare, restrained writing and beautiful descriptions of the countryside. Believable situations and characters - we loved them all. Matamata 001



A slow-moving novel which many of the members enjoyed. We enjoyed reading about small town life and the challenges it presents. Some very memorable characters. A few members are keen to read the rest of the trilogy.
PICT 005
This book includes vivid characterisation, evocative descriptions, and concrete details about small-town America. We appreciated discussing the connections between families and communities.
TAUR 043
Those who had read the book found it an easy read with beautiful voices coming out of the pages. Some hadn't realised it was the first of a trilogy until reading the notes, but most said they would like to read the other two books. Simple descriptive writing, sensitive and kind with funny moments, lovingly told.
NELS 076
This was a nice read, but it finished when it didn't feel like the finish. It was like a chapter of time. We felt it might have tied up a few loose ends. Not a memorable book.
All bar one of the seven people present today loved the book. We loved the pace, the descriptive passages, and felt the characters were all beautifully drawn. The one dissenter found the book too raw for her!
We did love this book. Simple style and content. Old values and love. Excellent.
I think most of the group loved this book and read it very quickly - finding it compelling reading. Its simplicity of writing style and complex characters were discussed at length - and admired by us all.
ASHB 004
We all enjoyed 'Plainsong'. Haruf's writing is so descriptive that we could picture the people and places described. The characters are well drawn and there such a range of issues subtly raised - bullying in its various forms a main one, but subtly developed. We had a lively discussion.
AUCK 021
We all loved it - thank you!
We all enjoyed this book about ordinary folk in a small town in the 'plains' of Colorado; and the interaction of people in unconventional family units and the support they gave. Witten in plain language, it was uplifting.
WELL 194
Everyone loved this book. The simple, plain style of writing was excellent and perfectly suited to the content and characters.
Most loved the writing, great descriptions which painted a picture, great glimpse into their life. Some felt there were a few aspects which did not seem to fit, with no explanation why they were there. Generally very well received.
All members loved this book - some saying it is the best book we have read this year. Understated and 'spare' it is a beautiful, at times harrowing, tale of ordinary people doing ordinary things making, somehow, compelling reading.
WELL 074
Enjoyed by most. Lots of discussion.
AUCK 306
Our group unanimously loved this novel. The style in which it is written emotes so much with sparing description, a very skilful talent of the writer. We all want to source his other books, both the two subsequent stories after 'Plainsong', as well as his previous ones. It's very sad to know that Kent Haruf is no longer with us.
NELS 023
Our group loved this book. We enjoyed the writing, the development of the characters and the sense of place in Eastern Colorado. Some members have read the 2 sequels already.
AUCK 226
I absolutely loved it, and am keen to read the further novels in the trilogy. Language was spare yet eloquent, characters real yet appealing, plot small yet engrossing!
CHCH 001
An absorbing, slow moving, gentle story of life in a small town. The characters are well drawn, range in age from pre teen brothers, teenage bullies, to adults with a wide range of personalities and all with various 'problems'. The author weaves his story well with no great highs or lows, but rather hints of undercurrents that cause problems - a readable, look at life.
Feedback mixed with a few people who didn't like it at all, to the majority who loved it. Those members described the writing as simple,low key,slow paced, descriptive and atmospheric. Believable, likeable, well-portrayed characters going through complex emotional times in a stoic unemotional way. The theme of community, redemption of ordinary people through relationships was touching and so well portrayed that the slightly improbable plot seemed totally credible. The plot was not so tidy. Some irritated by lack of punctuation, and some found some scenes/content disturbing.
METH 001
Brilliantly written, simple but elegant. Richly depicted characters. Group ALL rated this as a 5 which is unusual, but an indication of how we felt.
WELL 086
Really liked it.
One of the longest and engaged discussions of a BDS book. Easy to read, but too many life situations for one story. Discussed supportive services that would be expected in NZ, but appeared missing in these USA stories...