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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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    13

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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    341
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    128
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    40
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    9
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Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • 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.

32 of 38 people found this review helpful

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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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • William
  • Dell, Montana, USA
  • 04-25-13

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.<br/>

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • 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.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • MAUREEN
  • MILWAUKEE, WI, United States
  • 01-02-12

A beautiful read

Any additional comments?

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

15 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • 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.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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This story ❤

I never re-read books, but this one...

In the next few minutes I will finish it for the second time. However, I'm not in any way prepared to say goodbye to the McPheran brothers or Victoria. And so, I've got Eventide, the follow up story waiting on deck, although, much to my frustration and disappointment, Tom Stechschulte isn't the narrator.

WHAT?!!!

I've grown to love the gruff McPheran voices and smile from my heart whenever they speak. Why oh why did audible not extend Stechschulte's contract? He is sooo integral to the story.

Ugh,

Ok, disappointment aside, this book is a glorious "slice of life" tale that moves slowly, and burrows deeply into your heart and soul. Unforgettable.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • S.
  • 12-21-14

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.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • W.
  • Modesto, CA, United States
  • 01-08-12

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.

19 of 32 people found this review helpful