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The Tie That Binds [NOOK Book]

Overview

Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself.

In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf ...
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The Tie That Binds

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Overview

Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself.

In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith's tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family--and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom. Breathtaking, determinedly truthful, The Tie That Binds is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the arduous demands of rural America, and of the tenacity of the human spirit.

This haunting story, set on the plains of eastern Colorado, revolves around a woman who sacrifices her youth and freedom to care for her crippled, tyrannical father and her weak, ineffectual brother. "This is strong stuff, and marvelous writing."--John Irving.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An impressive, expertly crafted work of sensitivity and detail. . . . Powerful."  --Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[A] fine first novel that dramatically and accurately explores the lives of people who work the land in the stark American Middle West."  --The New York Times Book Review

"Kent Haruf writes so wonderfully. . . . His characters live, and the voice of his narrator reverberates after the last page: humorous, ironic, loving."  --The Christian Science Monitor

"Haruf's gifts as a writer go beyond choreography. He has caught his prairie people with the skill of Wright Morris, the prairie itself with the sweeping eye of Willa Cather. . . . [I]t's nearly impossible to believe this is his first novel."  --Rocky Mountain News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307560643
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/12/2010
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 60,231
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Kent Haruf
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.

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2000

    Kent Haruf Creates an American Classic

    When I was taking fiction writing from Kent Haruf at Nebraska Wesleyan University in the late 1980's, 'The Tie That Binds' had just been dubbed by many critics as one of the best novels of the decade. However, like a fool, I kept putting off reading it. Now, ten years later, I have finally managed to get off of my lazy rear and do what I should have done when I had the opportunity to really learn from this incredibly gifted writer. My loss. The story of Edith Goodnough is a truly sad and moving one. This tragedy works because it becomes a sounding board for ones own missed opportunities and lost chances. Anyone who has ever felt like a prisoner in their own lives (and most everyone does at least now and again) will be able to relate to Edith Goodnough. This novel is not to be missed by anyone who appreciates fiction with depth, and relishes characters who truly magnify real life and real peole.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Set in the plains of Colorado from the early 1900s to 1977, Ke



    Set in the plains of Colorado from the early 1900s to 1977, Kent Haruf’s The Tie that Binds is a beautiful story of real life, real people, and real meaning imparted by genuine relationships. Sanders Roscoe drives a Denver newspaper reporter away from his door in fury, but he welcomes the reader into his home where he tells an enthralling story of life on the American Plains—in particular, he tells of a woman called Edith who lies in hospital bed, charged unexpectedly with murder.

    Sandy’s father knew Edith’s family when they first arrived in the plains. His Indian grandmother helped deliver Edith when she was born, and there’s a wonderful sense of history to the depiction of Indian lands brought under the plough and tamed. Edith’s father despises the half-caste neighbor boy, but years of working the same tracts of land tie families and lives together, even while a sense of duty threatens those precious ties.

    Daughter of a cruelly unthinking man, sister of an oddly unthinking brother, and childless neighbor who loves children, Edith is dry and sandy as the soil, unyielding as the plough, and solidly determined as the trees that break the ever-blowing wind. Heroes are wounded people rising above their losses, forgiving each other, trusting, and building ties as land and nature bind them. As Sanders tells Edith's tale it soon becomes clear both he and she, for all their imperfections, are heroes of a kind.

    Wonderfully evocative, unflinchingly honest, with self-deprecating humor and truly redeeming affection, The Tie that Binds binds the reader to these characters and the land, leaving a feeling that we’ve really been there, known these people, and really care what might happen in the end.



    Disclosure: A generous friend loaned me this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    One of his best

    He can't write fast enough for me. One of the best American authors EVER!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2004

    Awesome Read

    Kent Haruf is one of the masters of storytelling! His characters and clear writing are a joy to read, he captures life exactly as it is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2002

    A new fan!

    Well, I'm a new fan. This is a great book, great writer. Good story, once you pick it up, you won't put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2001

    Kent Haruf is amazing

    Kent Haruf must be one of the greatest authors out there. I picked Plainsong up a few months ago because it was a staff-recommended pick at a bookstore and was blown away. I picked up The Tie That Binds solely for the reason that I had loved Plainsong so much, and I was far from disappointed. Mr. Haruf's ability to create 'real' people and express their emotions and thoughts is amazing. He is truly a treasure of an author and I don't know why he doesn't appear on every bestseller list that's out there. I will be reading ALL his stuff. I wish I was still in college and could move to wherever he teaches and take a class from him. I have recommended him to every book-lover I know.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2000

    engaging saga of colorodo woman

    I liked this book, was inspired to read it after reading Plainsong. It is sometimes slow moving, the narrator's (Sanders Roscoe) asides stalled the story at times, but I love Haruf's use of language, and the way his plain spoken characters relate to each other. Roscoe is a wonderful character, the setting is great, the story is well told and worth reading. Could have done without some of the violent scenes, though. All in all, well worth reading.

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