By Kent Haruf
Kent Haruf's novels, including The Tie That Binds (1984), Where You Once Belonged (1990), the National Book Award finalist Plainsong (1999), and Eventide (*** July/Aug 2004), present different slices of life in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.
THE STORY: "He would be dead before the end of the summer," Haruf writes about Dad Lewis, an elderly man and hardware store owner in Holt, Colorado, who is suffering from terminal cancer. Before he dies, however, Dad tries to right his life, including reconciling his troubled memories and his relationships with his family. His daughter Lorraine returns from Denver to help care for him, though his estranged son, Frank, is nowhere to be found. Surrounding Dad in his final days are also a neighbor and her young, adopted granddaughter; an elderly mother and her spinster daughter; and a newly arrived preacher attempting to mend his relationships with his family and congregation. Their small stories of bitterness, love, kindness, resignation, and endurance converge in a portrait of the unexpected blessings that bind a community even during hardship.
Knopf. 272 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 9780307959881
Denver Post ****
"The big questions, if never easy to answer, ought at least to be easier to articulate at the end of life: Who am I? How did I get here? What will I leave behind? But like the ever-present wind on Haruf's high plain, the big questions swirl well beyond Dad's grasp, or ours. And in Haruf's exquisite world of exhalation, that's exactly how things should be." TUCKER SHAW
Houston Chronicle ****
"[Benediction] is a modestly wrought wonder from one of our finest living writers, one who suggests here that benediction is a prayer for divine protection--protection from ourselves." BRUCE MACHART
Kansas City Star ****
"Haruf isn't focused on weaving a tricky plot, and he's not troubled by the notion that it's a novelist's duty to resolve every storyline. In Benediction, he's most interested in his characters' generosity of spirit--he's trying to understand where grace comes from and why it so often eludes us." KEVIN CANFIELD
Miami Herald ****
"What Kent Haruf sets out to do in Benediction, his fifth novel set in sleepy Holt, Colo., is to prove that the ordinary isn't pointless, that even if they're not the stuff of legend, our lives can be full of grace and meaning. ... In his clean, unfussy prose, straight and true as the roads that run through the unbroken countryside...