Plainsong

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

Plainsong

by Kent Haruf

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | August 22, 2000 | Trade Paperback

3.5 out of 5 rating. 2 Reviews
Not yet rated | write a review
"Ambitious, but never seeming so, Kent Haruf reveals a whole community as he interweaves the stories of a pregnant high school girl, a lonely teacher, a pair of boys abandoned by their mother, and a couple of crusty bachelor farmers. From simple elements, Haruf achieves a novel of wisdom and grace--a narrative that builds in strength and feeling until, as in a choral chant, the voices in the book surround, transport, and lift the reader off the ground."
-FROM THE CITATION FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 320 pages, 3.15 × 2.05 × 0.26 in

Published: August 22, 2000

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0375705856

ISBN - 13: 9780375705854

save
28%

In Stock Hurry, only 0 left! Not yet released

$12.92  ea

Online Price

$17.00 List Price

or, Used from $5.04

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

– More About This Product –

Plainsong

by Kent Haruf

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 320 pages, 3.15 × 2.05 × 0.26 in

Published: August 22, 2000

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0375705856

ISBN - 13: 9780375705854

Read from the Book

Here was this man Tom Guthrie in Holt standing at the back window in the kitchen of his house smoking cigarettes and looking out over the back lot where the sun was just coming up. When the sun reached the top of the windmill, for a while he watched what it was doing, that increased reddening of sunrise along the steel blades and the tail vane above the wooden platform. After a time he put out the cigarette and went upstairs and walked past the closed door behind which she lay in bed in the darkened guest room sleeping or not and went down the hall to the glassy room over the kitchen where the two boys were. The room was an old sleeping porch with uncurtained windows on three sides, airy-looking and open, with a pinewood floor. Across the way they were still asleep, together in the same bed under the north windows, cuddled up, although it was still early fall and not yet cold. They had been sleeping in the same bed for the past month and now the older boy had one hand stretched above his brother''s head as if he hoped to shove something away and thereby save them both. They were nine and ten, with dark brown hair and unmarked faces, and cheeks that were still as pure and dear as a girl''s. Outside the house the wind came up suddenly out of the west and the tail vane turned with it and the blades of the windmill spun in a red whir, then the wind died down and the blades slowed and stopped. You boys better come on, Guthrie said. He watched their faces, standing at the foot of t
read more read less

From the Publisher

"Ambitious, but never seeming so, Kent Haruf reveals a whole community as he interweaves the stories of a pregnant high school girl, a lonely teacher, a pair of boys abandoned by their mother, and a couple of crusty bachelor farmers. From simple elements, Haruf achieves a novel of wisdom and grace--a narrative that builds in strength and feeling until, as in a choral chant, the voices in the book surround, transport, and lift the reader off the ground."
-FROM THE CITATION FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

From the Jacket

"Ambitious, but never seeming so, Kent Haruf reveals a whole community as he interweaves the stories of a pregnant high school girl, a lonely teacher, a pair of boys abandoned by their mother, and a couple of crusty bachelor farmers. From simple elements, Haruf achieves a novel of wisdom and grace--a narrative that builds in strength and feeling until, as in a choral chant, the voices in the book surround, transport, and lift the reader off the ground."
-FROM THE CITATION FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

About the Author

Kent Haruf's honors include a Whiting Foundation Award, a Stegner Award, a Frank Waters Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. His novel Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He lives with his wife, Cathy, in his native Colorado.

From Our Editors

This haunting novel by Kent Haruf invents a spare, unsentimental world that honours small town values. Plainsong interweaves the lives of a pregnant high-school girl, a pair of orphans, a lonely high school teacher and a couple of grumpy old farmers to weave a web of introspective drama. This moving look at modern man's capacity for pointless cruelty as well as common decency received rave reviews from the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek and The New York Times Book Review. Haruf is also the author of The Tie That Binds and Where You Once Belonged.

Editorial Reviews

"A novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely . . . it has the power to exalt the reader." --The New York Times Book Review

"Resonant and meaningful . . . . A song of praise in honor of the lives it chronicles [and] a story about people''s ability to adapt and redeem themselves, to heal the wounds of isolation by moving, gropingly and imperfectly, toward community." --Richard Tillinghast, The Washington Post Book World

"A compelling and compassionate novel. . . . [With] his sheer assurance as a storyteller, [Mr. Haruf] has conjured up an entire community, and ineluctably immersed the reader in its dramas." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A work as flawlessly unified as a short story by Poe or Chekhov." --Jon Hassler, Chicago Tribune

"Haunting, virtuosic, inimitable." --Sarah Saffian, San Francisco Chronicle

"If the novelist invents a world, then Mr. Haruf has shaped a place of enormous goodness... The story itself--spare, unsentimental, rooted in action--honors the values of the community it describes." --Lisa Michaels,

"A moving look at our capacity for both pointless cruelty and simple decency, our ability to walk out of the wreckage of one family and build a stronger one where that one used to stand." --Jeff Giles, Newsweek

"A work as flawlessly unified as a short story by Poe or Chekhov." --Jon Hassler, Chicago Tribune

Employee Review

There seems to be no way a pregnant teenager, two old farmers, a teacher and a pair of lonely little boys could ever share anything in common, but this author joins their individual stories together as seamlessly and beautifully as a piece of music. A wonderful, heart-lifting tale of the invisible forces that hold a community together, and the harmonious and discordant ways our lives interact.

Bookclub Guide

US

1. Why might Kent Haruf have chosen Plainsong as the title for this novel? What meaning, or meanings, does the title have in relation to Haruf''s story and characters?

2. How does the small town of Holt figure as a character in each novel? How are the characters in each of the novels completely believable and different? How does Haruf repeat some character traits in his novels and to what effect? How do the characters and the image of the town change from book to book?

3. Few hints are given in the novel about what life might have been like for the Guthrie family before Ella left. What do you imagine that life to have been like? What sort of a marriage did Tom and Ella have, and what made it go wrong? What might account for Ella''s nearly total withdrawal even from the children she seems to love?

4. How do the three teenagers having sex in the abandoned house inform and affect Ike and Bobby? What does this sight tell them about sex? About love? About the relationships and power struggle between men and women?

5. Do you believe there are marked differences between Raymond and Harold McPheron? If so, what are they?

6. Why do you think the McPheron brothers have chosen to spend their lives together rather than start families of their own? Are they lonely or unhappy before Victoria''s arrival, or do they feel sufficient in themselves? What does Maggie mean when she tells them, "This is your chance" [p. 110]?

7. What parallels can you draw between the McPheron brothers and the young Guthrie boys? Why is the relationship so close in each case? What sort of a future do you see for the Guthrie boys? Do you think they will marry and have families?

8. The McPheron brothers think they know nothing about young girls. Is that the case? Has their solitary life close to the earth handicapped them so far as human relations go, or has it, in fact, provided them with hidden advantages?

9. What examples of parents abandoning children--either by desertion, emotional withdrawal, or death--can be found in this novel? What do these incidents have in common? How does abandonment affect children, and how does it shape their lives and relationships?

10. It is usually women who are portrayed as nurturers, but in this novel, men--Tom Guthrie and the McPheron brothers--provide shelter and comfort. How do men differ from women in this respect? What do these men offer that a woman might not be able to?

11. "These are crazy times," Maggie Jones says. "I sometimes believe these must be the craziest times ever" [p. 124]. What does she mean by this? In what way are our times "crazier" than earlier eras? How does such "craziness" affect the lives of young people such as Victoria, Ike, and Bobby?

12. What motives and feelings might have driven Tom to sleep with Judy when it was really Maggie he was interested in? Why might Maggie have seemed momentarily frightening or intimidating to him?

13. Why do the Guthrie boys befriend Iva Stearns? What are they looking for in this tentative friendship? Do they find what they are seeking?

14. Why do the Guthrie boys go to the McPheron brothers after Iva''s death rather than to someone closer to home, like their father or Maggie? Is there any indication that they connect Iva''s death with their mother''s abandonment? Why do they place their mother''s bracelet on the train tracks, then bury it?

15. The inhabitants of Holt and its surroundings are extremely laconic: they speak only sparingly, as though they mistrust words. What might cause this? In what way does it affect the characters'' relationships with one another?

16. How would you describe Holt, Colorado? What are its limitations, its disadvantages, and what are its strengths? In what ways is it typical of any American small town, and in what ways is it different? What help does it provide for people who need healing, like the characters in this book?

17. Plainsong depicts some unusual "family" groups. How might Kent Haruf define family?

18. For general discussion of Kent Haruf''s works

1. How does Kent Haruf''s writing style change from his first novel to his last, the National Book Award finalist Plainsong? What is the effect of Haruf''s style in each and use of language on the reader?

2. How does the small town of Holt figure as a character in each novel? How are the characters in each of the novels completely believable and different? How does Haruf repeat some character traits in his novels and to what effect? How do the characters and the image of the town change from book to book?

Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart