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Plainsong | [Kent Haruf]

Plainsong

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (232 )
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4.4 (210 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sara 08-11-15
    Sara 08-11-15

    USA, listener since 2005

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4461
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    241
    206
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    Story
    "Grim Living In A Small Town"

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay TRABUCO CANYON, CA, United States 12-09-14
    Jay TRABUCO CANYON, CA, United States 12-09-14

    Writer of The Majick Series

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    Story
    "What?"

    This story is disjointed. The characters do and say things that make no sense. The writer leaves dozens of questions and never resolves any of them. The dialog is stilted and weird.
    There are some bright spots in the story but the writer never quite let's us connect with the characters.
    It is as if the plot and outline were written and the rest was just to fill in the blanks.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MAUREEN MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 01-02-12
    MAUREEN MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 01-02-12

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
    ratings
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    Story
    "A beautiful read"
    Any additional comments?

    One of those books that when you reach the end, you just wish it wasn't so.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Seeley Tulsa, Oklahoma 07-24-15
    Richard Seeley Tulsa, Oklahoma 07-24-15 Member Since 2011

    Rich Seeley

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "A Bleak Book About Small Town Life"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Cokeville, WY, United States 04-25-13
    William Cokeville, WY, United States 04-25-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "A taste of Real Life"
    Would you listen to Plainsong again? Why?

    This is a story I can relate to - the characters are as real as life itself. Narrator does an excellent job


    What other book might you compare Plainsong to and why?

    Can't compare Plainsong to any other author - it is unique


    What does Tom Stechschulte bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Tom's delivery provides flavor - his ability to create characters with different voice inflections is very valuable


    Any additional comments?

    Just an excellent work - the kind of story that you can connect with. Finishing this story made me crave for more.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug 11-14-12
    Doug 11-14-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    10
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    "Comfort food for the brain"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Plainsong to be better than the print version?

    N/A. I have not read the book.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I liked them all. The McPheran brothers, though were especially entertaining.


    What does Tom Stechschulte bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    It wouldn't work well as a movie.


    Any additional comments?

    After a steady diet of spicy food, (thrillers and action novels) I needed some comfort food. This hit the spot.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonny 02-11-15
    Bonny 02-11-15 Member Since 2015

    Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    616
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    Story
    "Unremarkable small town, Remarkable story"

    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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W. Modesto, CA, United States 01-08-12
    W. Modesto, CA, United States 01-08-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Plainsong"

    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.

    14 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. 12-21-14
    S. 12-21-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    108
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    Story
    "Interesting -"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delah 11-27-14
    Delah 11-27-14 Member Since 2012

    Which came first... the books or the glasses?

    HELPFUL VOTES
    201
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    135
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    Story
    "Small Town Story of People w/ Big Hearts"

    I really liked this story. Atfer listening to it for a little bit I wondered 'where is it going' but I soon relaxed into the book and enjoyed the ride. The narrator is very good. The flow of the novel and the stories of the different characters is very good. It will stay with me for a while now that the last word has been spoken. There is another novel, perhaps not quite a sequel but has some of the same characters, called "Eventide".

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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