Monday, December 1, 2014

Remembering Kent Haruf


Yesterday evening, I heard the sad news that Kent Haruf had passed away. Earlier in the year, I had entered one of my short stories in a contest he was to judge, and I indulged myself imagining him reading the piece near his hearth. However, I soon received an announcement that he had stepped down due to health issues. So I had already imagined this, the worst possible outcome. Still, the news was crushing. I'm feeling a little indulgent for being so sad about the death of someone I don't know, and yet, I am. If pressed to choose just one writer whose work has impacted me most, there wouldn't be anyone who even comes close. But I don't want this to be about me. I want to tell you, again, about his wonderful books. They are:

The Tie That Binds (1984)
Where You Once Belonged (1990)
Plainsong (1999)
Eventide (2004)
Benediction (2013)

The last three comprise a trilogy with overlapping characters and storylines, set in the fictional small town of Holt, Colorado. Among Haruf's fervent band of followers, many began their love affair with Plainsong, which was a National Book Award finalist. It's a great place to start, if you haven't read his work. But the earlier books are good too. All three of his latter works would find a place on a list of my most beloved novels.

His publisher has announced that a final novel, Our Souls at Night, will be published next year. I'll look forward to that, but it doesn't seem like enough. Maybe there would have never been enough of Haruf's wonderful writing, at least not for me.

What I wrote about Haruf and Benediction last year here.

The author picks his top ten books here.

And here's an excerpt from Haruf's wonderful Plainsong, so that you can begin your own love affair with this talented writer.

1 comment:

"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka