Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Eventide (Plainsong Series) by Kent Haruf


Abide with me:  fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens;  Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me. (Henry E Lyte)

Continuing the story he began in Plainsong (1999), Kent Haruf's fourth novel - albeit second novel in the Plainsong series - is every bit as rich in detail and atmosphere.  Written in precise yet poetic prose, and meticulously crafted, Eventide (2004) is infused with a glorious, understated beauty.

With Victoria Roubideaux now at college, the McPheron brothers are alone on their farm once again, yet struggling to settle back into old ways and routines;  Tom Guthrie and Maggie Jones, meanwhile, are finding their future together more assured, even while they are still finding their feet as a couple.

Alongside these familiar faces and places, however, are new characters and their stories:  Betty and Luther, who are struggling to keep their heads above water and their children Joy Rae and Richie out of care:  eleven-year-old DJ, who has spent much of his supposedly carefree childhood caring for his cantankerous grandfather Walter;  DJ's friend Dena, her mother and her sister, all of whom are trying to adjust to life and a home without the girls' father.

Eventide is a kind book in a cruel world.  It is honest, the people are real and you get the occasional measured workings of grace without it ever resorting to sentimentality and clichés.  Eloquent and evocative, Eventide paints a convincing, compelling picture of small-town life in Holt County, Colorado.

About the author:  Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado.  He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973.  For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado, a hospital in Arizona, a library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, and universities in Nebraska and Illinois.

Haruf is the author of Plainsong (1999), which received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Maria Thomas Award in Fiction, and The New Yorker Book Award.  Plainsong was also a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award.  His novel, The Tie That Binds (1984), received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the Pen/Hemingway Foundation.  In 2006, Haruf was awarded the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.

All of his novels are set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.  Holt is loosely based on Yuma, Colorado, an early residence of Haruf in the 1980s.

Haruf lived with his wife, Cathy, in Salida, Colorado, with their three daughters.  He died of cancer on 30 November 2014.

Rating:  5/5

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