Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

This is Kent Haruf's third novel of life in the small town of Holt on the high plains of Colorado. Guthrie is a high school teacher whose wife has left. Ike and Bobby are his two elementary school sons. Victoria Roubideaux is a pregnant high school girl. Harold and Raymond McPheron are two old bachelor farmers living seventeen miles south of the tiny town. They all have their share of obvious and surprising life challenges. Often it is left to Maggie Jones to take care of everyone.

The characters and humor make this book one not to miss. Consider when Maggie Smith tries to convince the McPheron brothers to take in pregnant Victoria.
Oh, I know it sounds crazy, she said. I suppose it is crazy. I don't know. I don't even care. But the girl needs somebody and I'm ready to take desparate measures. She needs a home for these months. And you - she smiled at them - you old solitary bastards need somebody too. Somebody or something besides an old red cow to care about and worry over. It's too lonesome out here. Well, look at you. You're going to die some day without having had enough trouble in your life. Not the right kind anyway. This is your chance.
Eventuall they talk among themselves and decide to take the girl in.
All right, [Harold] said. I will. I'll agree. I shouldn't, but I will. I'll make up my mind to it. But I'm going to tell you one thing first.
What is it?
You're getting goddamn stubborn and hard to live with. That I'll say. Raymond, you're my brother. But you're getting flat unruly and difficult to abide. And I'll say one thing more.
This ain't going to be no goddamn Sunday school picnic.
No, it ain't, Raymond said. But I don't recall you ever attending Sunday school either.

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