I never posted here when I read Plainsong, because it’s one of those books that defies description. Minimalist prose style — simple sentence structure, no extended descriptions — which is something that usually I’m not so keen on. But the story in Plainsong is compelling, because the characters are. The novel is set in a small town in rural Colorado, and it follows various people who live in that town through about a year. The stories, which seem separate from one another, gradually intertwine.
So I really liked Plainsong, though I didn’t stop to write about it here when I first read it. I’m writing now because I just read Eventide. Which is a sequel to Plainsong, something I didn’t realize or I probably would have read it sooner. The same characters (or most of the same characters) deal with whatever life hands out, starting with the two old brothers who have run a ranch together for all their lives, moving onto a feckless couple who live in a broken down trailer with their two kids and can’t cope. Period. I’m not sure how Haruf made me like and care about some of these characters — especially the brothers — but he did, so much so that when I finished Eventide I was immediately wondering if he was going to write a third novel. He doesn’t tie all the loose ends up, and while some characters end up in a good and hopeful place, others do not. And I’ll continue to wonder about them until (and if) he tells more of the story.