Friday, June 08, 2012
Friday's Forgotten Books, June 8, 2012
Plainsong, Kent Haruf-Patti Abbott
I have read this before but with Will Patton reading it was a perfect audiobook for a good housecleaning. This story, which takes place in Colorado, is the intersecting tales of a number of characters in a small town. A teacher at the high school is left by his wife with two small boys to care for; a pregnant teenager is taken in by some kindly town folks when her mother tosses her out, the boys themselves try to navigate life without a mother. It's a gentle book, well told but with a major flaw I am not sure I picked up the first time.
All of the "evil" characters eventually disappear instead of being dealt with or even explained in any depth. The mother that throws her daughter out never appears again, the family of the town bully just goes away, the father of the baby slinks off after making a fuss.
I am not sure if Haruf was aware of this or if he was making a statement that good can outlast evil, but it began to tear at the delicate framework of the book. Even the mother who left her husband and boys just seems to wander off with little explanation of her exact problem.
One unresolved conflict could be overlooked, but all of the conflict here was shed without resolution.
Still the writing is so good and the main characters so fully realized, it doesn't ruin a very fine book.
Elisabeth Grace Foley