BOTWW: Plainsong

Uplifting and coming together, something we all could use a little more of these days.

January 13th, 2021: Plainsong by Kent Haruf, Knopf

Finding good literary novels without dark emotional themes is about as difficult as finding dog stories with happy endings. But I’m collecting as many as I can this year, and this is another good one: Plainsong follows the lives of six characters living in a small town on the high plains east of Denver. There’s a teacher and his young sons dealing with their wife and mother leaving; a pregnant teenager thrown out of her house; a pair of old men—brothers—who struggle with the loneliness and hard work of running a ranch on their own. And this is the story of how they all come together in different ways. Simple, heartwarming, and generous, it’s a book that could verge on being sappy, but Haruf tells it with such restraint and sharp, clean writing, that it resonates long after reading. Much like Doyle’s Mink River or Russo’s Empire Falls, it’s a small story that finds beauty and weight in the telling of everyday life. A perfect, uplifting book for these chaotic times.

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