Cody's Reviews > Plainsong

Plainsong by Kent Haruf
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's review
Sep 02, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: the-west, colorado, the-plains
Read in September, 2011

I'm not generally drawn to texts that advertise strong characters (or are lauded for "good character development"); I tend to read more for language and setting, and my motivations for picking-up Plainsong were no different. It was the setting--the high plains of eastern Colorado--that drew me to this work.

Yet, I will wholly admit that, in the course of my reading, I did grow fond of a number of characters in this novel (notably the McPheron brothers). As I thought about why this was, I realized that one of Haruf's great accomplishments--why I was drawn to number of this characters--has less to due with the execution of traditional, novelistic character development and more with his deft fusing of people, place, and language. Sure, there are some clichéd characters and moments in the novel, but, as a whole, it seemed to me that Haruf--native to the place and lives of these people--sculpted his characters from the very environment, which is also reflected in his sparing, clean prose, that drew me to the book in the first place. Perhaps, this explains why I felt a bit of a kinship with some of the characters.

All-in-all, Plainsong struck me as a very genuine work, a lyrical tribute to life on the high plains.

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