by Kent Haruf
4.0 131

Hardcover(1 ED)

$26.62 $28.95 Save 8% Current price is $26.62, Original price is $28.95. You Save 8%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Eligible for FREE SHIPPING


Plainsong by Kent Haruf

"With Plainsong, [Kent Haruf] has conjured up an entire community, and ineluctably immersed the reader in its dramas.  He has written a compelling and compassionate novel." - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Haruf's unforgettable tale is both emotionally complex and elemental, following, as it so gracefully does, the cycle of life, death, and rebirth." -BooklistNominated for the National Book Award, Kent Haruf's Plainsong, Unabridged on audio

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver. 

In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether.  A teenage girl - her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house - is pregnant with nowhere to go.  And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.

From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together - their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant.

Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a story to care about, believe in and learn from.

"Plainsong is nothing short of a revelation." - Richard Russo

Author Biography: Kent Haruf's The Tie That Binds received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation.  Also the author of Where You Once Belonged, he lives with his wife, Cathy,in Murphysboro, Illinois, and teaches at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375406188
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1999
Edition description: 1 ED
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.48(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.14(d)
Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

KENT HARUF is the author of five previous novels (and, with the photographer Peter Brown, West of Last Chance). His 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 was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He died in November 2014, at the age of seventy-one.


South Central Mountains of Colorado

Date of Birth:

February 24, 1943

Place of Birth:

Pueblo, Colorado


B.A., Nebraska Wesleyan University, 1965; M.F.A., Iowa University (Writers' Workshop), 1973

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Plainsong 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 131 reviews.
Brandi31 More than 1 year ago
A inside look at small town life is exactly what you get from Plainsong, a novel by Kent Haruf. Holt, Colorado is a typical small town with its fair share of drama and problems. This story of unlikely friends brought together by their family problems is heartwarming and will leave you wanting more. At first glance Holt might seem like the perfect small town, but at a closer look you will see that it has a set of problems. A pregnant teen that gets kicked out of her house and Tom Guthrie's wife leaving him to raise two young boys on his own a just a couple of difficulties the town experiences. Luckily there are people with big hearts to help them out. Maggie Jones offers Victoria a place to stay, but after her father and Victoria have a conflict it is clear it isn't going to work. So Raymond and Harold McPherons offer for her to go stay with them. It is a weird considering that the McPherons brothers are old farmers that had never lived with a girl except their mother who died when they were young. The relationship they form is what makes this story heartwarming and inspirational. Another odd relationship that is formed is between the Guthrie boys and an old lady that lives in an apartment. After their mother leaves them she is one of the few women that they have in their lives. She enjoys the boys company because she doesn't have any other visitors. They form a great relationship that helps the boys through the tough time in their lives. In the little town when things seem like they are falling apart it seems like there is always someone there to catch it, but can it stay that way forever? Overall, Plainsong is an excellent book that people that like to learn about small town life would love. The story is heartwarming, inspirational and can provide hope to people that are at a tough point in their life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so quiet and spare that it took a while to fall into it's rhythm. Once I did, I was up reading it to the end. It reminded me of the best short stories, those that make every word and gesture count. No action to speak of, just a small cast of characters who you know about as well as anyone else does by the end of the book. Intimate and enchanting. As soon as I finished I was out looking to see what else he'd written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had heard about Plainsong but had not read it. When I heard stories on PBS about the death of Kent Haruf, I took advantage of my new proficiency with Nook to find out why it had such a following. At first, I had trouble with the lack of quotation marks and other road signs we are used to as readers. I even put it down and considered giving up on it. There are too many books out there that are easy to read. I'm glad I went back. Once I accepted it as a narrative, as if Haruf were sitting on the porch swing telling the story, I got into connecting the dots between what at first seemed like a series of vignettes with little to pull the characters together. After reading it, I found that it continues to slip back into my thoughts. It will probably go down as a favorite read in my life. Different, but well done and a welcome change to the books that are easy to read, and too easy to forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was pick for reading in our book club. I felt it was okay. I held my attention however, it did not seem to develope the characters in the book to a great degree. I would not have chosen this book to read if it had not been in our book club. I also thought for the content of the book it was a bit expensive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the first words to the last a delightful story . Just what I needed .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the simplicity of the story that relayed some serious life concerns and plausible ways to deal with them. It showed the values of a community helping one another.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well told story about everyday people really mas you appreciate the quality of the writing. A book you can't wait to pick back up again.
BigSher More than 1 year ago
Some interpret the word "simple" in a derogatory manner, but I use it here as a high compliment. I appreciate authors who can tell a story in a clean, clear concise manner, and this book does that. It's such a sweet, kind and graceful tale of everyday people experiencing everyday life. I gave this book as a gift for Christmas, and I have given it on other occasions as well. The sequel is also wonderful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a beautifully written story by this gifted author.
mgoodrich718 More than 1 year ago
Plainsong By Kent Haruf 4 Stars cross posted to Share A Shelf The good reads just continue for this month! Spectacular recommendations I've had for books. I will say that this is tagged funny, however I am not at all sure why. Like a comfortable old shoe I immersed myself in Holt County in this wonderful book by Kent Haruf. The title says a lot about the book. One definition of Plainsong is any simple unadorned melody or air. Holt is simplicity, an unadorned place on the map. Plainsong can also mean a chant that builds and that also happens here, a crying out from the people of Holt. This is a story of different people living in the same area dealing with the complexities of even their simple lives. This is farming country, things are handled simply and no one wants to bother anyone with their troubles. Some don't even know what it is they needed or lacked until someone comes along and they realize. There is a pregnant 17 year old who has been disowned by her mother. A teacher who is lonely and his two young boys who have been left by their wife and mother. Two old farming bachelors who are set in their ways discover there is room for a change even 17 miles from anywhere. This is a poignant novel, you feel for this place and these lives that are contained there. I couldn't put it down. It transported me back to my childhood and rural country. To a simpler time and age. There were still problems of course and there always will be but it felt good remembering how that life was and how much I miss it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This man can write, don't miss this great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful, gritty, human, rural story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved this book for years.
BRMiller More than 1 year ago
This was my first read from Kent Haruf. The hardships and happiness in this novel are believable and well built (there's got to be a better word... it's just GREAT!). Being from a small midwest town myself, I was amazed by the details that were placed perfectly. This book is a great read and you will not want to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a good read !! I would like to be neighbors with the townpeople and farmers/ranchers, good hearted, lovable
Eunie More than 1 year ago
Holt is a small town in eastern Colorado where young boys on bicycles deliver papers in the early morning hours and collect each month from their patrons. It's a place where everyone knows everyone and where their problems and their successes become the main topic of conversation among the citizens. The "good" guys are: Tom Guthrie a conscientious high school teacher; his two young boys who long for their mother, lost in a deep depression; Victoria a shy, pregnant seventeen-year-old girl, whose mother has kicked her out of her home; two old farmer brothers, Raymond and Harold, openhearted and generous, who have lived together all of their lives; Maggie Jones, also openhearted and generous, also a high school teacher who cares for her aged father stricken with a form of dementia; and the old lady who lives and dies in her apartment above the barbershop. The "bad" guys in this story are: the father of the baby, Victoria carries; the local barber who has a tight, mean heart; the spoiled-rotten high school boy and his parents who enable their son to be a failure; the pregnant girl's mother; and the boys' aunt, sister to their mother, so insensitive as to be cruel. In this story of fragmented lives intertwined, we see how even non-related people can become family. Plainsong, also now a movie, is an excellent story. Eunice Boeve, Author of Ride a Shadowed Trail
Stef14 More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing, you feel the way the characters feel, the book is brought to life. The story is one that many girls face when becoming pregnant at an early age this book can give them hope that even in the worst situations you survive and endure way more than expected.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So good, I read about a third of the book in one sitting and had to tear myself away to make it last longer. The characters to begin with, play at the readers heartstrings and only grow into more deeply lovable characters, flaws and all. This book deals with real issues but manages not to focus solely on the tragedy and mistakes made but that some good can come out of their troubles. I didn't want it to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Outstanding book. Written beautifully, yet a storyline one cannot put down - a rare combination. As a total 'city kid' I thought I couldn't relate to these mid-western characters they are people and characters so deep yet easy to understand, that you won't be able to put it down and will suddenly wish you actually knew your neighbors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite reads for a long time. The author's writing style seems deceptively simple, yet he conveys so very much reality, in its beauty and in its pain. I fell in love with the McPherons, and found myself wishing they were my 'grandfathers!' I'm not sure how this book could have been longer, but I wish it had been.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. Even months after reading it, it is like a movie running throught my head. The characters were so well developed. growing up in a ranching comunity I have to admit that their manerism described so many people I know. I could not put the book down. It touched me so much that I still get the chills thinking about it. Yes, there were some graphic parts, but for some reason I think they were necessary for the book to be what it was. Real... Lets face it real life is graphic. The way that the story lines of all the characters wove together and how they all afected the others lives left me in awe. beautiful, wonderful, powerful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lets hope after 300 long pages we get some character development. Not a page turner, but not bad on the other hand. One of those books when your friends see left on your coffee table, they think you are smart. Too many situations that made me feel uneasy. Glad I finished/got it over with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. The 'agape' love woven throughout the book was beautiful. The characters were very well developed and multi-faceted. A wonderful read, complete with difficult passages and truths.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is a good book that has a very interesting story line. It kept me reading and interested through the entire book. i would recomend that you read this book if you like those kind of stories that everything goes wrong and in the end eveything gets better. I would sugest that if swearing and graphic delails bother you, this book is not for you. All in all, its a good read and worth your time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Plainsong, accurately named, is one of the most wonderful novels I have read. It tells of a complex tale, where the characters are constantly weaving in and out of each other, and yet there is a simplicity to the straightforward country tale. It is graphically written with simple language and structure. The novel remains easy to understand, telling things as they are. My favorite characters are the brothers: both pairs. I love the relationship between Bobby and Ike honest, childlike and real. They have a bond that Haruf portrays without many words spoken between the two of them. The McPheron brothers have a more developed relationship, more or less an older version of the younger boys. They continually make me laugh they are so simplistic, honest and kind it creates heartache for the ¿good ol¿ days¿. Their initial kindness and growing tenderness toward Victoria are nothing short of endearing their uncomplicated, contented lifestyle subtly reinforces what should be most important in life. There are many more elements, characters and themes that lace this novel and yet this is just a mere review. I greatly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it be read.