Benediction

( 23 )

Overview

A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year

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 ...

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Benediction

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Overview

A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year

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. 

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Ron Charles
…Haruf may be the most muted master in American fiction: our anti-Franzen. Haruf's…novels are as plain and fortifying as steel-cut oatmeal: certified 100-percent irony-free, guaranteed to wither magic realism, stylistic flourishes and postmodern gimmicks…At its best, Benediction offers deceptively simple "little dramas, the routine moments" of small-town life, stripped to their elemental details. Haruf's minimalism achieves more emotional impact than seems possible with such distilled material and so few words…He produces the kind of scenes that Hemingway might have written had he survived the ravages of depression.
Publishers Weekly
In Holt, the fictional Colorado town where all of Haruf’s novels are set, longtime resident Dad Lewis is dying of cancer. Happily married (he calls his wife “his luck”), Dad spends his last weeks thinking over his life, particularly an incident that ended badly with a clerk in his store, and his relationship with his estranged son. As his wife and daughter care for him, life goes on: one of the Lewises’ neighbors takes in her young granddaughter; an elderly woman and her middle-aged daughter visit with the Lewises, with each other, and with the new minister, whose wife and son are unhappy about his transfer to Holt from Denver. Haruf isn’t interested in the trendy or urban; as he once said, he writes about “regular, ordinary, sort of elemental” characters, who speak simply and often don’t speak much at all. “Regular and ordinary” can equate with dull. However, though this is a quiet book, it’s not a boring one. Dad and his family and neighbors try, in small, believable ways, to make peace with those they live among, to understand a world that isn’t the one in which they came of age. Separately and together, all the characters are trying to live—and in Dad’s case, to die—with dignity, a struggle Haruf (Eventide) renders with delicacy and skill. Agent: Nancy Stauffer Cahoon, Nancy Stauffer Associates. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Haruf made his name with the heartfelt Plainsong, a best seller and a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The subsequent Eventide, also a best seller, revisited Plainsong's setting, high-plains Holt, CO. Haruf again returns to Holt but with a new cast, among them Dad Lewis, dying of cancer and comforted by his wife and daughter though still estranged from his son. Then there's the little girl mourning her mother and a new preacher struggling with both his family and his congregation. Bittersweet charm and a big, big tour.
Kirkus Reviews
A meditation on morality returns the author to the High Plains of Colorado, with diminishing returns for the reader. As the cliché has it, Haruf caught lightning in a bottle with his breakthrough novel, Plainsong (2000), an exploration of moral ambiguity in the small community of Holt. With his third novel with a one-word title set in Holt, the narrative succumbs to melodrama and folksy wisdom as it details the death of the owner of the local hardware store, a crusty feller who has seen his own moral rigidity soften over the years, though not enough to accomplish a reconciliation with his estranged son, a boy who was "different" and needed to escape "from this little limited postage stamp view of things. You and this place both." Or so the dying man, known to all as "Dad" Lewis, imagines his son saying, as the possibility of the son's impending return before the father's inevitable death provides a pulse of narrative momentum. Other plotlines intertwine: A minister reassigned from Denver for mysterious reasons has trouble adjusting with his family to small-town Holt; an 8-year-old girl next door, who lost her mother to breast cancer, receives support from a neighboring mother and her adult daughter (single after a scandalous affair); Dad's own daughter has a boyfriend who isn't worthy of her. It's a novel that seems to suggest that it takes a village to raise a dysfunctional family, yet things somehow work themselves out. In a small town, "[n]othing goes on without people noticing," yet they often miss what the outsider minister poetically observes is "[t]he precious ordinary" of life in the community. Or perhaps life in general. The death of Dad has dignity and gravitas, but too much leading up to it seems like contrived plotline filler. Between one character's insistence that "[e]verything gets better" and another's belief that "[a]ll life is moving through some kind of unhappiness," the novel runs the gamut of homespun philosophizing. Even the epiphanies seem like reheated leftovers.
From the Publisher
“His finest-tuned tale yet. . . . There is a deep, satisfying music to this book, as Haruf weaves between such a large cast of characters in so small a space. . . . Strangely, wonderfully, the moment of a man's passing can be a blessing in the way it brings people together. Benediction recreates this powerful moment so gracefully it is easy to forget that, like [the town of] Holt, it is a world created by one man.” —John Freeman, The Boston Globe

"A quiet and profound statement about endings, about change and death and endurance, and about the courage it takes to finally let go. . . . What's remarkable is Haruf's ability, once again, to square quotidian events with what it means to be alive and bound in ordinary pleasure with ordinary people [with] a matter-of-fact tone, with spare declarative sentences and plain-speak among the characters that is, in its bare-bones clarity, often heartbreakingly authentic."  —Debra Gwartney, The Oregonian

“What Haruf makes of this patch of ground is magic [and] Benediction spreads its blessing over the entire town.  Haruf isn’t interested in evil so much as the frailties that defeat us – loneliness, a failure to connect with one another, the lack of courage to change. . . . [He] makes us admire his characters’ ability not only to carry on but also to enjoy simple pleasures.” —Dan Cryer, San Francisco Chronicle

“We’ve waited a long time for an invitation back to Holt, home to Kent Haruf’s novels. . . He may be the most muted master in American fiction [and] Benediction seems designed to catch the sound of those fleeting good moments [with] scenes Hemingway might have written had he survived.” —Ron Charles, Washington Post

"A lovely book, surprisingly rich in character and event without any sense of being crowded. . . . Haruf is a master in summing up the drama that already exists in life, if you just pay attention." —Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Absorbing [and] evocative. . . . Haruf doesn’t offer us any facile reconciliations. The blessings in Benediction are [not] easily won. For that very reason they are all the more believable and all the more unforgettable.” – Richard Wakefield, The Seattle Times

"Splendid. . . . As the expertly crafted structure of Benediction emerges, it becomes clear that [Haruf's many] characters trace the arc of a life. . . as we join [a good but flawed man] in his deepening appreciation for those around him, while counting down the remaining hours, in his life and our own." —Mike Fischer, Portland Press Herald

“Remarkable. . . . Haruf paints indelible portraits of drifting days that reveal unexpected blessings. . . . We may not always recognize the best moments—maybe because they are often as simple as eating off the good china at a backyard picnic—but he understands their power to make us human.” —Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald

"Itself a blessing. . . spare and unencumbered. . . . Haruf's great skill is in describing the plain ways of people who live in small places [and the war] going on between good and evil that we recognize as part of our nature. This is what makes Benediction a universal story, not a hometown tale." —Michael D. Langan, The Buffalo News

“Quiet, and intimate, and beautiful.” —Lisa McLendon, The Wichita Eagle
 
“If Hemingway had had more soul, he would've written a book like Benediction.” —Emma Broder, The Chicago Maroon

"Incisive, elegiac, and rhetorically rich. . . his finest expression yet of an aesthetic vision that, in spite of its exacting verisimilitude, achieves a mythic dimension rare in contemporary fiction. . . . Haruf's art is rigorous but transparent. Scene after scene, we appreciate that we are in the hands of a master of complex storytelling disguised as simple observation. . . . Reading [him], I am often reminded of the great Russian realists, who have a similar compressed intensity and who spent much of their writing time examining the lives of ordinary people living in small communities in wide-open spaces." —Kevin Stevens, The Dublin Review of Books

Benediction suggests there’s no end to the stories Haruf can tell about Holt or to the tough, gorgeous language he can summon in the process.” —Paul Elie, The New York Times Book Review

“Haruf is the master of what one of his characters calls 'the precious ordinary'. . . . With understated language and startling emotional insight, he makes you feel awe at even the most basic of human gestures.” —Ben Goldstein, Esquire

“Grace and restraint are abiding virtues in Haruf's fiction, and they resume their place of privilege in his new work. . . . For readers looking for the rewards of an intimate, meditative story, it is indeed a blessing.” —Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Haruf is maguslike in his gifts. . . to illuminate the inevitable ways in which tributary lives meander toward confluence. . . . Perhaps not since Hemingway has an American author triggered such reader empathy with so little reliance on the subjectivity of his characters. . . . [This] is a modestly wrought wonder from one of our finest living writers.” —Bruce Machart, The Houston Chronicle

“Both sad and surprisingly uplifting in its honest and skillful examination of death, families and friendship.” —Jason Swensen, Deseret News

“As Haruf's precise details accrue, a reader gains perspective: This is the story of a man's life, and the town where he spent it, and the people who try to ease its end. . . . His sentences have the elegance of Hemingway's early work [and his] determined realism, which admits that not all of our past actions or the reasons behind them are knowable, even to ourselves, is one of the book's satisfactions.” —John Reimringer, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Reverberant… From the terroir and populace of his native American West, the author of Plainsong and Eventide again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions.” – Brad Hooper, Booklist

The Barnes & Noble Review

Dip into Kent Haruf's Benediction, then look at a photo of eastern Colorado's high plains, and you think, "Of course." Of course, from this landscape of heat and light and ice and vistas comes this plain and powerful book. All straight lines and spare prose, Benediction takes place during a single summer, an arc of time in which nothing much happens but everything changes.

We enter the tiny town of Holt, Colorado (or re-enter, if you've read any of Haruf's previous four novels) just as Dad Lewis, the elderly owner of the local hardware store, learns he's dying of cancer. A few months, the doctor figures. Nothing anyone can do. So Dad and his wife, Mary, head home, drive "out from Denver away from the mountains, back onto the high plains: sagebrush and soapweed and blue grama and buffalo grass in the pastures, wheat and corn in the planted fields."

Bit by bit, Dad's family and friends gather. Dad's adult daughter, Lorraine, arrives from the city. Her presence, while welcome, drives home the decades-long absence of her brother, Frank, who left home after high school and never came back. Next door, Berta May has just taken in her orphaned eight-year-old granddaughter, Alice. Across town, a new preacher, sent to Holt from a city parish for a fresh start, is about to start making the same old mistakes.

There's setup enough for a soap opera's worth of plots, but that's not Haruf's way. Instead we're offered life as a patchwork of trial and error, mistakes and serendipity. And, for a lucky few, the chance to make amends. A shopping trip to buy Alice some new summer clothes packs as much of a punch as Mary's drive to Denver in a last attempt to find Frank. When, on a scorching summer afternoon, the women move from the heat of the house to a backyard picnic, it's a series of quiet scenes in which a universe unfolds.

They brought out glasses and silverware and salt and pepper shakers and a dish of pickle relish and pink cloth napkins and iced tea in a glass pitcher?. Over them lay the shade of the tree, dappling and swaying when there was a breeze at this noon hour.
Later, goaded by the heat, the women go swimming in a stock tank. The oldest skinny-dips for the first time in her life. Alice, the youngest, learns how to float, "half-submerged, her blue eyes open to the blue sky."

There's a mythic quality to the landscape of Holt, which is fitting since Haruf, who lives and writes in Murphysboro, Illinois, left Colorado more than thirty-five years ago. In Benediction, as in his previous four novels—The Tie That Binds, Where You Once Belonged, Plainsong, and Eventide—it's the restraint of Haruf's storytelling that provides its power, and its grace.

Veronique de Turenne is a Los Angeles–based journalist, essayist, and playwright. Her literary criticism appears on NPR and in major American newspapers. One of the highlights of her career was interviewing Vin Scully in his broadcast booth at Dodger Stadium, then receiving a handwritten thank-you note from him a few days later.

Reviewer: Veronique de Turenne

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307959881
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 129,653
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kent Haruf

Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Writers’ Award, the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, the Wallace Stegner Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation; he has also been 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 their native Colorado.

Biography

Though many readers know Kent Haruf as the author of 1999's acclaimed novel Plainsong, Haruf had already made an auspicious debut with The Tie That Binds in 1984. Where You Once Belonged followed in 1990. Some short stories appeared in literary magazines, but it was another nine years before Haruf surfaced again on the bookshelves.

Despite the long gestation period, Plainsong yielded rich returns. The story weaves together several characters: pregnant 17-year-old Victoria Roubideaux; the McPherons, an elderly pair of cattle rancher brothers who take Victoria in; Tom Guthrie and his two young sons, abandoned by their depressed mother; and a high school teacher who knows them all, Maggie Jones. Each chapter is titled for one of the characters, carrying the reader along with one or another as all of them intersect. Nominated for the National Book Award, Plainsong became a bestseller and was warmly reviewed. "It has the power to exalt the reader," the New York Times Book Review declared.

Plainsong, which derives its title from the unadorned vocal music often sung in Christian churches, is aptly named. The tale is simply told, the action moves slowly, and dialogue resides within the text, unframed by quotation marks. All of Haruf's novels are set in the High Plains community of Holt, in eastern Colorado -- a fictional town much like the ones Haruf grew up in. "In the Plains, things are stripped down to the essentials, and that seems to fit what [Plainsong] is about and that seemed to be an obvious setting for this story," he says in a publisher's interview. The rhythms of nature and simple work are a latticework underlying the author's stories. Like the landscape of the setting, the progression of Haruf's tales is subtle. He is a thoughtful, understated writer who writes with a restrained sympathy for his characters, even when they seem not to warrant much.

Haruf revisited some of Plainsong's characters in Eventide, continuing Victoria's story as she heads off to college and bringing both tragedy and renewal to the McPheron brothers. The theme of unconventional family units continues, as does the mixing of modern urban problems and simple rural life. An 11-year-old orphan cares for his grandfather; a mother of two copes with being abandoned by her husband; and a mentally disabled couple struggle to keep their family intact.

Like his later novels, The Tie That Binds and Where You Once Belonged feature Haruf's straightforward narrative style and rural setting. However, both have a sharper edge and more explosive content, dealing with hard crimes and focusing more on individual characters. Tie focuses on one woman's tragic life story of family sacrifice; Belonged tells about the crimes inflicted on the town of Holt by one of its former residents, an ex-football hero.

Haruf's stories end as openly as they begin; though well crafted and thoroughly imagined, they are not about tight plot construction or surprising twists. Instead, Haruf is more concerned with expressing emotional truths. "Our lives are generally pretty messy," Haruf told the Kansas City Star in a 2000 interview about Plainsong. "What I want to suggest at the end [of the book] is that at this point, at least this day and this point in their lives, all these people have found a place in a small community -- it may even be an extended family -- in which they can connect with other people and find solace and communion."

Good To Know

Over the years, Haruf has worked as at a variety of places, including: a chicken ranch in Colorado, the Royal Gorge in the Rocky Mountains, a construction site in Wyoming, the railroad tracks in southeastern Montana, a pest control company in Kansas, a rehabilitation hospital in Denver, an orphanage in Montana, a surgery wing in a hospital in Phoenix, a presidential library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, a country school in Colorado, and a college in Nebraska.

Haruf lives with his wife Cathy. Between them, the two have eight children from previous marriages. Haruf has three daughters.

Haruf taught at Southern Illinois University before the profits from Plainsong allowed him to retire and move back to Colorado.

Plainsong was made into a CBS TV movie in 2004. Rachel Griffiths starred as Maggie.

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    1. Hometown:
      South Central Mountains of Colorado
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 24, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pueblo, Colorado
    1. Education:
      B.A., Nebraska Wesleyan University, 1965; M.F.A., Iowa University (Writers' Workshop), 1973

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
 
When the test came back the nurse called them into the examination room and when the doctor entered the room he just looked at them and asked them to sit down. They could tell by the look on his face where matters stood.
 
Go on ahead, Dad Lewis said, say it.
 
I’m afraid I don’t have very good news for you, the doctor said.
 
When they went back downstairs to the parking lot it was late in the afternoon.
 
You drive, Dad said. I don’t want to.
 
Are you feeling so bad, honey?
 
No. I don’t feel that much worse. I just want to look out at this country. I won’t be coming out here again.
 
I don’t mind driving for you, she said. And we can come this way again anytime if you want to.
 
They drove out from Denver away from the mountains, back onto the high plains: sagebrush and soapweed and blue grama and buffalo grass in the pastures, wheat and corn in the planted fields. On both sides of the highway were the gravel county roads going out away under the pure blue sky, all the roads straight as the lines ruled in a book, with only a few small isolated towns spread across the flat open country.
 
It was sundown when they got home. By then the air was starting to cool off. She parked the car in front of their house at the west edge of Holt on the gravel street and Dad got out and stood looking for a while. The old white house built in 1904, the first on the street which wasn’t even much of a street then, and still only three or four houses there yet when he bought it in 1948, the year he and Mary were married. He was twenty-two, working at the hardware store on Main Street, then the old lame man who owned it made up his mind to move away to live with his daughter and he offered Dad the option of purchasing it, and he was a known man in town by then, the bankers knew him, and gave him the loan without question. So he was the proprietor of the local hardware store.
 
It was a frame house sided with clapboard, two-story with a red shingled roof, with an old-fashioned black wrought iron fence around it and an iron gate with spears and hard loops at the top. Out back was an old red barn and a pole corral grown over with tall weeds, and beyond that there was nothing but the open country.
 
He went inside to the downstairs bedroom to put on old pants and a sweater and came back out and sat down in one of the porch chairs.
 
She came out to find him. Do you want supper now? I could make you a sandwich.
 
No. I don’t want anything. Maybe if you could bring me a beer.
 
You don’t want anything to eat?
 
You go on ahead without me.
 
Do you want a glass?
 
No.
 
She went inside and returned with the cold bottle.
 
Thank you, he said.
 
She went back in. He drank from the bottle and sat looking out at the quiet empty street in the summer evening. The neighbor Berta May’s yellow house next door and the other houses beyond it, running up to the highway, and the vacant lot directly across the street, and the railroad tracks three blocks in the other direction, all of that part of town still empty and undeveloped between his property and the tracks. In the trees in front of the house the leaves were blowing a little.
 
She brought a tray of crackers and cheese and an apple cut up in quarters and a glass of iced tea. Would you like any of this? She held out the tray to him. He took a piece of apple and she sat down beside him in the other porch chair.

Well. That’s it, he said. That’s the deal now. Isn’t it.
 
He might be wrong. They’re wrong sometimes, she said. They can’t be so sure.
 
I don’t want to let myself think that way. I can feel it in me that they’re right. I don’t have much time left.
 
Oh I don’t want to believe that.
 
Yeah. But I’m pretty sure -that’s how it’s going to be.
 
I don’t want you to go yet, she said. She reached across and took his hand. I don’t. There were tears in her eyes. I’m not ready.
 
I know. . . . We better call Lorraine pretty soon, he said.
 
I’ll call her.
 
Tell her she doesn’t have to come home yet. Give her some time.
 
He looked at the beer bottle and held it in front of him and took a small drink.
 
I might get me some kind of better grade of beer before I go. A guy I was talking to said something about Belgian beer. Maybe I’ll try some of that. If I can get it around here.
 
He sat and drank the beer and held his wife’s hand sitting out on the front porch. So the truth was he was dying. That’s what they were saying. He would be dead before the end of summer. By the beginning of September the dirt would be piled over what was left of him out at the cemetery three miles east of town. Someone would cut his name into the face of a tombstone and it would be as if he never was.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Two of Haruf’s previous novels set in Holt, Plainsong and Eventide, followed the same groups of characters, but Benediction mentions them only in passing. Have you read those two novels? Do you think reading them would increase your enjoyment of Benediction?

2. The book’s epigraph is a definition of the word “benediction”: “the utterance of a blessing, an invocation of blessedness.” Why is it an appropriate title for this novel?

3. Discuss the character called Dad. Why do you think Haruf gave him that name? What does it signify?

4. What do we learn about Dad from the episode with Clayton? Why does Dad hallucinate a visit from Clayton’s wife?

5. There are many parental relationships in the novel: Dad and Mary and Lorraine, Willa and Alene, Lyle and John Wesley, for example. What makes some stronger than others?

6. Alice has many substitute mothers. Why do so many of the women want to take care of her? Who does she seem to respond to best?

7. One parental relationship in particular haunts the story: Dad and Frank. How does Dad feel about Frank at the end?

8. On page 43, Lyle counsels a couple who want to get married: “Love is the most important part of life, isn’t it. If you have love you can live in this world in a true way and if you love each other you can see past everything and accept what you don’t understand and forgive what you don’t know or don’t like.” How does this relate to his own life?

9. Why is Lyle’s sermon so inflammatory? What point is Haruf making about religion?

10. When Lyle goes out walking at night, he says he’s in search of “the precious ordinary.” (Page 162) What does he mean by that?

11. After Mary goes to Denver in search of Frank, she’s treated kindly by several strangers. What does this tell us about Mary, or about city life?

12. Lorraine has lost a child and is in an unfulfilling relationship. Do you think she’ll be happy to move back to Holt and take over Dad’s store? How do you imagine that will go?

13. Change is a theme that runs through the novel—fast change, slow change, changes in small-town living, changes in religion, changes in characters’ relationships. What larger point is Haruf making?

14. Why does John Wesley attempt suicide? Why doesn’t he go through with it?

15. What does Dad learn from the “visits” by his parents and Frank? Does Dad have regrets about his life?

16. Reread the closing paragraphs of the book. Why does Haruf end the novel this way?

17. Haruf’s language and punctuation are so plain, the writing is nearly austere. How does its simplicity contribute to the mood of the story?

18. In an interview in Publishers Weekly about Benediction, Haruf said: “In some ways, what happens in Holt happens in Denver, in Minneapolis, everywhere. Death is a fact of life, no matter where you live. Taking care of the dying is a necessity everywhere. Those are not conditions exclusive to small towns.” Did he succeed in making his story feel universal?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    Benediction could be Kent Haruf's finest novel, yet. Haruf is a

    Benediction could be Kent Haruf's finest novel, yet. Haruf is absolutely gifted when it comes to fleshing out the details and nuances of life

    in small town Holt, CO. This book gives the reader the opportunity to explore death, life, love, bigotry and small mindedness. This novel is simply sublime.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    An amazing writer!

    I have read all of Kent Haruf's books and they are all wonderful. I like his style of writing that lets you just sit back and enjoy the story and picture the characters, without alot of confusing dialog, too many names to remember, and impossible to imagine situations. He simply tells a wonderful story with people in the story that you wish you lived next door to. So many times while reading this I found myself smiling without even realizing it, and sometimes tearful. I read it in 2 days and wish it would have been about a thousand pages longer because I did not want it to end. I will absolutely read it a second time. One of my favorites without a doubt.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 27, 2013

    A celebration of life.

    Kent Haruf is one of my favorite authors. His spare prose is perfect for the plain, small-town folks who people his novels, and their stories are compelling for all their simplicity.

    It's giving nothing away to tell you that the main character in "Benediction," Dad Lewis, is dying; he receives the diagnosis on the book's very first page. His reaction, and that of his wife and daughter, make up much of the book. But their friends' lives, and the lives of those with whom they come in contact, also come into play here. And just like anyone else, Dad Lewis has regrets and those come into play here as well.

    "Benediction" is an unsentimental, yet very moving, depiction of the end of a good man's life. I'd rank it right up there with "Plainsong" as one of Haruf's best books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Bless You

    As a pastor, I have the privilege of giving blessings. This novel reminds us that we bless one another through kind acts, for in doing so we affirm another person's worth as a human. Mary "blesses" the attendant with her note. The pastor "blesses" his assailants by turning the other cheek. Sometimes, sadly, opportunities for "blessing" another person, and the positive ripple effects, are passed by. The most blessed benediction is to end life surrounded by loved ones and to die in/with/at peace. A lovely novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    A wonderful book!

    This is a quiet, contemplative story about endings, but it isn't a sad tale. Haruf writes in what seems like such a simple way that you are taken on a journey full of meaning without realizing what is happening to you as you read. I have enjoyed all his books in this trilogy, but perhaps this one even more than the others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful.

    This is the 3rd and probably last story about Holt and the people on the high plains. A story about complicated lives in an uncomplicated place. Haruf reminds us our own lives are both fragile and durable at the same time and in the end life goes on. A few light moments and lots of tears in this one.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    Simply wonderful. You will want to read everything this masterf

    Simply wonderful. You will want to read everything this masterful storyteller has published.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2013

    Lovely

    I liked it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2013

    Beautiful

    So touching and heartfelf. Beautifully written.

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  • Posted September 20, 2013

    A comforting end of life story.

    Haruf again is able to make you understand his characters,their lives and deaths. He portrays common people who are dealing with everyday things in their lives. This story is poignant and a wonderful read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Highly recommend any book written by Kent Haruf

    Kent Haruf is one of the premier writers of today. His series of books, starting with "Plainsong" are so well written. I would suggest reading his books in order of publication as they are connected.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    True values

    This novel slows you down and let's you sink into the life of an American community which still carries the values of the past as well as the present. The writing is spare and economical but transcends the vernacular of the Colorado townspeople with a poetic grace. Reading it is like a meditation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2013

    I've read all of his other works, but this one is not up to par

    I've read all of his other works, but this one is not up to par with the likes of Plainsong or any of his other works. Story lines were weak and not well developed. Read his other works.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013

    good read, I really enjoy his style of writing and you can get i

    good read, I really enjoy his style of writing and you can get into the characters and their lives totally.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Not his best

    I was very disappointed with this book

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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