Kent Haruf has received prestigious awards, including a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation for his finely-tuned works. Before the opening chapter of this novel, Haruf offers a definition. Plainsong is “any simple and unadorned melody or air.” Direct yet elegant, Haruf’s Plainsong is a hymn to the breadth of the human spirit.
A high school history teacher in a small Colorado town, Guthrie is raising his two young sons alone. Thoughtful and honest, he is guiding them through a world that is not always kind. Victoria, one of his students, is pregnant, homeless, and vulnerable to the scorn of the town. When Guthrie helps two elderly ranchers take the young woman into their home, an unlikely extended family is born. As the chapters of these people’s lives alternate throughout Plainsong, loneliness and need are transformed into nourishing bonds. Narrator Tom Stechschulte captures the subtle changes that bring the men, women, and children together. His performance highlights every shading of this superb New York Times best-seller.
©1999 Kent Haruf (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC
I don't review every book--only books I feel strongly about--hence the many 4-5 star vs 1-2 star reviews. Just my opinions--hope they help.
When I think of this book words like bleak, abusive, depressing, harsh, and grim all come painfully to mind. I wanted so much to love this story--but it was absolutely not for me. Further, the rough narration only added to the misery of this listening experience. I am giving up on this darkly plodding and bitter book. Life is simply too short. Can't recommend.
This book is very well written and the narration is great but the story was too bleak for my taste. It may be realistic in its depiction of small town life with ordinary people trying to cope with eccentrics and bullies but overall it has a hopeless feel to it. Certainly a lot of 20th Century literary legends like Faulkner wrote similar stories. It was recommended to me by a friend who loved it. I did not love it and felt more like I was enduring it. Basically this falls in the category of the kind of literary realism you'll like if you like that kind of thing.
N/A. I have not read the book.
I liked them all. The McPheran brothers, though were especially entertaining.
He is a good reader who captures the manner of speech in that part of Colorado well. I am a Co. Native who has been to Yuma (Holt) many times.
It wouldn't work well as a movie.
After a steady diet of spicy food, (thrillers and action novels) I needed some comfort food. This hit the spot.
I finished this book the weekend the author died. My sympathies to the family. It the author lived his life as thoughtful as his writing he was a wonderful being I am sure.
The characters and the proses are beautifully crafted, I loved the writing. But if you listen, expect a very subtle overlay of simple stories that unfold slowly. There is no big dramatic moment, anywhere; rather it is beautiful writing about people you could know, trying to figure out their lives that occasionally intersect.
Montana Leather Crafter -
This is a story I can relate to - the characters are as real as life itself. Narrator does an excellent job
Can't compare Plainsong to any other author - it is unique
Tom's delivery provides flavor - his ability to create characters with different voice inflections is very valuable
Just an excellent work - the kind of story that you can connect with. Finishing this story made me crave for more.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
Although Plainsong is set in an unremarkable small town in Colorado, it is itself a remarkable story. The variety of characters and the situations they face are all written by Haruf with plain, simple, understated, and unflinching language; it is his writing that makes this story so quietly evocative and compelling. Tom Stechshulte's narration is perfect.
Holt, Colorado is populated by many characters, high school teacher Tom Guthrie, his depressed and fading-away wife Ella, their young sons Ike and Bobby, pregnant teenager Victoria Roubideaux, her abusive boyfriend Dwayne, bachelor brothers and ranchers Raymond and Harold McPheron, and teacher Maggie Jones, whose stories are told in alternating and overlapping chapters. There is loss of innocence, sex, violence, and death, but there is also kindness, decency, community, and family.
Plainsong is an honest and eloquently-told story that will be with me for a long time.
Say something about yourself!
One of those books that when you reach the end, you just wish it wasn't so.
There might be a beautiful story here to be told but for me profanity, crude language and graphic sex scenes ruin it. I quickly learned that this book was not my forte.
T.S is, as always, a great reader- Sometimes I choose a book just because he's reading. He has yet to read a bad one.
The book builds slowly and evenly a great story with some wonderful characters. Some of the characters are from a time that is past and missed today.
Maybe it will come later in parts II & III, but I felt it lacked a story. There was a story there, but it really didn't come together for me. But at the same time, i loved the experience of the book. It brought me back home to my small town roots. I wish he brought us more inside the character's heads.
I am tempted, but there are other books on my list for now. I may come back to it in a year or so when I need a slow paced, mindless, experience.
The older brothers, although they were a bit indistiguishable.
a little long; at times i would listen during a 30 minute walk, and by the end, we were still at the same scene going through step by step what each character literally did
I want to thank the author and narrator. Great job overall. I will miss the characters as I move on to my next book.
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