Thursday, December 4, 2014

RIP, Kent Haruf

I am sorry to write another “RIP” post so soon, but I was sad to hear the news that Kent Haruf, the author of several novels set in small town Colorado, died November 30, 2014, at the age of 71, and I want to note his passing and pay tribute to his fiction. This fine writer’s best known novel is “Plainsong,” which is truly beautiful in its understated story and insights. I posted a very positive “review” of his most recent novel, “Benediction,” on 1/1/14. Haruf’s novels are about “ordinary” people, in the sense that they do not live in glamorous places or have unusual lives; they are usually working class people, not given to talking about themselves or their lives, just getting on with the business of living. Haruf’s writing is spare, beautiful, and powerful. It is, in a sense, stealth writing, as it seems low-key but somehow sneaks up on the reader. Some have compared the realism and small town aspect to the work of Sinclair Lewis; I don't think that is quite right, but I see the connection. It is most unfortunate that this writer has died relatively young. One consolation for his readers is that his sixth and last novel, “Our Souls at Night,” will be published in 2015.

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