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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

4.0 (106 )
5 star
 (46)
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4.0 (97 )
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Story
4.2 (97 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    MAUREEN MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 01-02-12
    MAUREEN MILWAUKEE, WI, United States 01-02-12

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    535
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    2
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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.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug 11-14-12
    Doug 11-14-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    8
    5
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    Story
    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Cokeville, WY, United States 04-25-13
    William Cokeville, WY, United States 04-25-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    3
    2
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    1
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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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delah 11-27-14
    Delah 11-27-14 Member Since 2011

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

    HELPFUL VOTES
    139
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    116
    74
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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".

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nadalu 11-09-14
    nadalu 11-09-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    0
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    Story
    "Loved the story; Performance Painful"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Compelling characters provided a unique, full, perspective of small-town life. The story has a timelessness that made me want to stay with it, even though the falsetto voce narration of the female characters was painful.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Characters were developed in intimate, compassionate detail. The author moved masterfully between view points of the primary characters: 2 young brothers learning about death, 2 old bachelor brothers completely changing their household, a middle-aged man rebuilding his identity and a young, unmarried girl learning to become a mother.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Tom Stechschulte?

    Mr. Stechschulte did a fine job reading male characters, but his falsettos were grating for the female characters. Since I'm new to audio books, I don't have a recommendation.


    Do you think Plainsong needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. It stands alone beautifully.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 11-01-14
    Laura 11-01-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    24
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    Story
    "This is a good one."

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W. Modesto, CA, United States 01-08-12
    W. Modesto, CA, United States 01-08-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    103
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    185
    37
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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.

    11 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. 12-21-14
    S. 12-21-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    83
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    285
    83
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia COLUMBUS, OH, United States 12-17-14
    Patricia COLUMBUS, OH, United States 12-17-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    13
    13
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    0
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    Story
    "Hemingway redux"
    What does Tom Stechschulte bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Seriously, the author channels Hemingway in several respects. For starters, he never met a compound sentence he didn't like. Maybe this is more obvious listening than it would be reading, but the cadence sounds an awfully lot like For Whom the Bell Tolls. Then there are the inexplicable plot detours. At one point, for example, the boys get on a horse and take a long (at least the description is long) ride whose point is never really clear. Maybe it's just me, but I felt like that often reading Hemingway.

    That said, the story itself is kind of nice. The characters are clearly defined and the narrator does a good job of distinguishing them. The nature of a small town and the interactions therein are well handled, but this is not Mayberry by any stretch. The plot line about the pregnant teenager and the elderly bachelors is especially charming.

    This was different than the books I usually read/listen to, but I'm glad I did.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay TRABUCO CANYON, CA, United States 12-09-14
    Jay TRABUCO CANYON, CA, United States 12-09-14 Member Since 2012

    Writer of The Majick Series

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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