From the beloved and best-selling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes a story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado.
When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them. Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. Meanwhile, the town’s newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.
Despite the travails that each of these families faces, together they form bonds strong enough to carry them through the most difficult of times. Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way. Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering and, above all, the humanity of its inhabitants.
About the Author
Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Award, a Stegner Award, a Frank Waters Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. His novel Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He lives with his wife, Cathy, in his native Colorado.
The novel represents in itself a highly impressive and condensed parable on human lot and the unity of life and death. The author introduces allegorical dimensions into the fabric of his story most naturally since he manages without distorting reality and skilfully resorts to general tone of narration and to potentials of his original style which is free of adornment to the point of austerity and lucid to the point of transparency. That exceptionally is the most appropriate, if rarely demonstrated in fiction, manner of treating such categories as love, death and tolerance.
There’s a lot happening in this journey through a small prairie town, most of it in small gestures, but not quite meaningless. What these gestures add up to is an impassioned belief in the underlying goodness of people, despite their flaws, and in their hard fight to live a life with dignity and meaning. Haruf makes his point without pathos or sentimentality, but objectively, with a clean, pared-down prose style that lends the most innocuous moments a power and resonance – in short Haruf has made the mundane sublime.