"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, December 25, 2009

Book Review: Plainsong

Plainsong is a brilliant story about normal people dealing with normal people's problems. Kent Haruf's prose creates a comfortable feeling allowing the reader to imagine being a friend to the character they most relate to. No matter who you are you can relate to any one of the characters. Guthrie's ordeal with facing single parenthood and a bout with loneliness, Victoria finding herself pregnant, out of wedlock, with seemingly no one to turn to and who could forget the sweet McPheron brothers. They are old, crusty, hard working ranchers who find it hard to relate to anything outside of the family business, let alone a 17 year old girl.

Haruf wonderfully arranges this story around the one character we knew the least about: Maggie Jones. The two main things we know about her is that she is loving because she takes care of her senile father and that she has a fiery side through her declaration that she would not compete with Judy, the school secretary, for Guthrie. Maggie Jones is the tie that binds and brings every one together on Memorial Day at the McPheron ranch.

The reader isn't left with a sweet, feel good story but one where we applaud the characters for their change, maturity, acceptance of responsibility. We watch them face and handle their problems. We are allowed to imagine a future for the characters. Ike and Bobby have accepted their mother's decision, Victoria is now a mother and more than likely will seek to achieve bigger and better things for her and her daughter. Maggie and Guthrie just might get married and the McPheron brothers now have a family to fill the void they had from the loss of their parents. Life is good.

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