One of the most beloved novels in recent years, Plainsong was a best-seller from coast to coast-and now Kent Haruf returns to the High Plains community of Holt, Colorado, with a story of even more masterful authority.When the McPheron brothers see Victoria Roubideaux, the single mother they'd taken in, move from their ranch to begin college, an emptiness opens before them-and for many other townspeople it also promises to be a long, hard winter. A young boy living alone with his grandfather helps out a neighbor whose husband, off in Alaska, suddenly isn't coming home, leaving her to raise their two daughters. At school the children of a disabled couple suffer indignities that their parents know all too well in their own lives, with only a social worker to look after them and a violent relative to endanger them further.
Haruf's follow-up to the critically acclaimed and bestselling Plainsong is as lovely and accomplished as its predecessor. The aging bachelor McPheron brothers and their beloved charges, Victoria and her daughter, Katie, return (though Victoria quickly heads off to college), and Haruf introduces new folks-a isabled couple and their children, an old man and the grandson who lives with him-in this moving exploration of smalltown lives in rural Holt, Colo. Ranchers Raymond and Harold McPheron have spent their whole lives running land that has been in their family for many generations, so when Harold is killed by an enraged bull, worn-out Raymond faces a void unlike any he has ever known. His subsequent first-ever attempts at courtship and romance are almost heartbreaking in their innocence, but after some issteps, he finds unexpected happiness with kind Rose Tyler. Rose is the caseworker for a poor couple struggling so dimly and utilely to better their lives that it becomes painful to witness. Children play crucial roles in the novel's tapestry of rural life, and they are not spared life's trials. But Haruf's characters, such as 11-year-old orphan DJ Kephart, who cares for his retired railroad worker grandfather, and Mary Wells, whose husband abandons her with two young girls, maintain an elemental dignity no matter how buffeted by adversity. And while there is much sadness and hardship in this portrait of a community, Haruf's sympathy for his characters, no matter how flawed they are, make this an uncommonly rich novel. Agent, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May 9) Forecast: Readers will find that what made Plainsong a bestseller-its humanity, its grace and its moving, heartfelt story-shines again in Eventide. With an announced first printing of 250,000 and an author tour, Haruf's latest should do very, very well. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Eventide by Kent Haruf
They came up from the horse barn in the slanted light of early morning. The McPheron brothers, Harold and Raymond. Old men approaching an old house at the end of summer. They came on across the gravel drive past the pickup and the car parked at the hogwire fencing and came one after the other through the wire gate. At the porch they scraped their boots on the saw blade sunken in the dirt, the ground packed and shiny around it from long use and mixed with barnlot manure, and walked up the plank steps onto the screened porch and entered the kitchen where the nineteen-year-old girl Victoria Roubideaux sat at the pinewood table feeding oatmeal to her little daughter.
In the kitchen they removed their hats and hung them on pegs set into a board next to the door and began at once to wash up at the sink. Their faces were red and weather-blasted below their white foreheads, the coarse hair on their round heads grown iron-gray and as stiff as the roached mane of a horse. When they finished at the sink they each in turn used the kitchen towel to dry off, but when they began to dish up their plates at the stove the girl made them sit down.