Haruf’s Plainsong

“Afterward, when she was calm again, after the doctor had left, she went into the air outside the Holt County Clinic next to the hospital, and the light in the street seemed sharp to her and hard-edged, definite, as if it were no longer merely a late fall afternoon in the hour before dusk, but instead as if it were the first moment of noon in the exact meridian of summer and she was standing precisely under the full illumination of the sun.”

A teenage girl is leaving the doctor after he confirms she is pregnant. Kent Haruf describes the light to show this defining moment in her young life. It was no longer any afternoon; she feels she’s standing under a spotlight. Haruf tells us before the novel begins that Plainsong means a simple, unadorned melody and that is the writing style you find in this quiet, beautiful book. If you are a writer, I think you’ll be inspired by how much Haruf conveys without fancy vocabulary or complicated sentence structure. Blogging about books I’ve read years ago is sometimes like re-discovering old friends. I need to read this one again.

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