Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review: 'Our Souls at Night' by Kent Haruf

Colorado author Kent Haruf proved that you’re never too old to reinvent yourself, take risks, find love, and write a great novel. In his lifetime he became one of America’s most cherished authors of everyday life – or of living life in these times. His own life experiences – work on a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Denver, a hospital in Phoenix, a presidential library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, as an English teacher with the Peace Corps in Turkey, and colleges in Nebraska and Illinois – allowed him to witness the process of relating to family to friends, to love and to life in a manner too rarely found in today’s writers. Kent died in 2014 having written seven particularly compelling novels that have become part of the standard library of most readers’ homes in the country.

OUR SOULS AT NIGHT is Kent’s final novel and it would be difficult to find a better story to represent a significant writing career about interrelationships of people from the childhood years to the aged period of life. The story is well known – in Holt, Colorado, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis's wife. His daughter lives hours away, her son even farther, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change? As Addie and Louis come to know each other better--their pleasures and their difficulties--a beautiful story of second chances unfolds.

That is the summary but not the essence of this generous novel. The magic is in the simplicity of the dialogue and the manner in which Kent moves his characters toward completion of a story that makes us long to hear more. Kent Haruf will always be a significant part of American literature: he carved a niche few others can match or fill. Grady Harp, December 16
I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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