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Plainsong Audio Cassette – Audiobook, Nov 1999


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0694522880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0694522880
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 10.4 x 6.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,217,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Plainsong, according to Kent Haruf's epigraph, is "any simple and unadorned melody or air." It's a perfect description of this lovely, rough-edged book, set on the very edge of the Colorado plains. Tom Guthrie is a high school teacher whose wife can't--or won't--get out of bed; the McPherons are two bachelor brothers who know little about the world beyond their farm gate; Victoria Roubideaux is a pregnant 17-year-old with no place to turn. Their lives parallel each other in much the same way any small-town lives would--until Maggie Jones, another teacher, makes them intersect. Even as she tries to draw Guthrie out of his black cloud, she sends Victoria to live with the two elderly McPheron brothers, who know far more about cattle than about teenage girls. Trying to console her when she think she's hurt her baby, the best lie they can come up with is this: "I knew of a heifer we had one time that was carrying a calf, and she got a length of fencewire down her some way and it never hurt her or the calf."

Holt, Colorado, is the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone's business before that business even happens. In a way, that's true of the book, too. There's not a lot of suspense here, plot wise; you can see each narrative twist and turn coming several miles down the pike. What Plainsong has instead is note-perfect dialogue, surrounded by prose that's straightforward yet rich in particulars: "a woman walking a white lapdog on a piece of ribbon" glimpsed from a car window; the boys' mother, her face "as pale as schoolhouse chalk"; the smells of hay and manure, the variations of prairie light. Even the novel's larger questions are sized to a domestic scale. Will Guthrie find love? Will Victoria run away with the father of her baby? Will the McPherons learn to hold a conversation? But in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and Plainsong manages to capture nothing less than an entire world--fencing pliers, calf-pullers, and all. Kent Haruf has a gorgeous ear, and a knack for rendering the simple complex. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Kent Haruf's prose murmurs a haunting melody through the intertwined lives of a Colorado community. It is a simple tale of life, death, love and hatred (The Times)

Like all the best novels, Plainsong takes you into a world that is at once real and vividly imagined. Here is a poetry of landscape, a tender and passionate evocation of ordinary people in majestic country (Niall Williams)

The hundreds of thousands of fans of this book have been nothing less than devotional in their praise of Kent Haruf (Times Literary Supplement)

Plainsong is nothing short of a revelation (Richard Russo)

Plainsong is a well-crafted investigation into how disparate voices, each unique and interconnected, can come together in the most unlikely of circumstances . . . Haruf offers a fresh approach by creating layers which intensify and deepen as the novel progresses, alternating between each character's life at every chapter (Observer)

A first-rate, old-fashioned read (Time Out)

From simple strands of language and cuttings of talk, from the look of the high Colorado plains east of Denver almost to the place where Nebraska and Kansas meet, Haruf has made a novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt the reader. (New York Times)

Plainsong is a beauty, as spare and heartbreaking as an abandoned homestead cabin, always tough but humane, never sentimental...It's a story that draws the reader like a heat mirage (James Crumley)

Plainsong becomes a story of mythic proportion, and not just a story about a small town in the American West, but a story of universal concern. Our story (Boston Review)

I've had the delightful experience once again of becoming so absorbed in a book that I couldn't have slowed down if I tried . . . At certain points I was horrified by the austerity of the isolated lives in this story, and yet on every page I savoured the beauty of the telling (Chicago Tribune)

True to the country he writes about, Haruf builds his characters out of small gestures and daily rituals, not dialogue. Theirs is a deep language, like the rumble before an earthquake (Los Angeles Times)

Elegant in its simplicity, elemental in its power, it arouses deep and hard-earned emotions (Newsday)

A lovely read, illuminated by sparks of spare beauty (Time) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Aug. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Plainsong is a modern American classic that sits comfortably in the company of works by Steinbeck and Hemmingway through to Richard Ford. It is a simple story that captures effortlessly the day to day struggles of its principal characters set against a rugged landscape that is ever brooding in the background. The book avoids sentimentality as it carefully draws you closer to superbly drawn out characters. For lovers of modern American writing, this book is a must. You will not be disappointed.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Literary Lunatic on 18 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
If you want thrill, this is not the book for you. It does just what it suggests on the cover and the title - it is a layering together of simple stories in an ordinary way that in its ensemble makes a beautiful melody of the lives involved. This is a book of heart and soul told in a beautiful lyrical fashion. Sure the plot is thin and that's part of the beauty - everyday life isn't jampacked with adventure. Just let the words and the characters wash over you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By F. Pawley on 20 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
I started reading this yesterday morning and finished it this morning. It is a 'must' read and throughly enjoyable.

Although it doesn't have a vast story, it deals mainly with two sets of brothers x 1 pair elderly, the others young.

A man whose wife is sick, through some sort of depression, with two sons she clearly loves but cannot live with. Her husband the schoolteacher who has problems of his own in the classroom as well as at home.

Two elderly men who take in a girl because she needs a home and grow to accept her and her situation and the girl herself who realises life's mistakes go hand in hand with kindness.

I loved the banter between the two older brothers and was sorry that the book ended. It really was a totally different read for me and I must say I loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
This gentle and beautiful novel is one of a kind. It tells of the people of Holt, a small town in farming country. The story encompasses Guthrie, a schoolteacher and his two sons aged 9 and 10, Ike and Bobby. Also involved are the McPherons, two elderly men who protect a young girl who has been made pregnant by an out-of-towner, Victoria Roubideaux. There were moments when the beauty of the writing overwhelmed me. It is a gentle, pastoral community, but there are people within it for whom one feels an almost visceral dislike. The depiction of the boys’ childhood experiences are brilliantly handled. Their mother has withdrawn herself from the family and their naïve attempts to bring their mother back to them are heartbreaking without ever spilling over into melodrama.

Victoria’s problem is that she has fallen for the wrong man and her solution is highly individual as, after a period of taking the conventional route, she takes up residence with the McPherons, unworldly farmers who have limited lives by choice.

The experience of reading this beautiful book is profound. There were moments when I had to put the book down and think about what it was telling me. These coincided with moments of danger for Ike and Bobby, and moments of sheer terror which held me in thrall to the complex of problems faced by people. But this is a quiet book. It’s a book that demands to be read while it puts you through some uncomfortable moments. I cannot think of another book that has had such a sublime effect on me. I simply loved it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By sheridanw@hotmail.com on 5 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
A truly compelling novel!It made me laugh, cry and experience every emotion in between. I loved the fact that he never explained more about the characters than absolutely necessary which for someone like me kept me alot more interested in each of them. I definitely think that it would be worth while reading this fantasatic novel!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Plainsong is quite simply a must read book. Although you can't buy his other novels in the UK order them in from .com as they even surpass this brilliant book. As other people have reviewed on the hardback this is a book that will make you laugh outloud in parts (and I mean outloud) and break your heart at the same time. This is masterful storytelling - you are in awe of it! This book deserves the same kind of success as Angela's Ashes and Memoirs of a Geisha - read it and like me press it onto every friend you have - they will thank you for it!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mrs Lorraine Haskins on 18 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
Kent Haruf has a style of writing that draws you into this book , I couldn't put it down.It was like watching a good movie.The characters were so real.I bought his other 2 books straight away on the strength of Plainsong.An inspiring Author who has become one of my favourites.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved this book - it made me laugh out loud, its beautifully written, poignant and wry. The only drawback was that it ended. If you like E Annie Proulx you should read this. And then you should go buy Kent Haruf's other novel, "Where You Once Belonged", which is also outstanding. He sure knows how to unravel a quirky story this man. Get to it.
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