Kent Haruf's latest intimate portrayal of everyday lives, shortlisted for the ...
One of those ugly little towns, Holt, was invented by the novelist Kent Haruf. Readers of his novels Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction know the place now, street by street, citizen by citizen. I find that Haruf's characters, like Pierre and Natasha or Huck Finn, inhabit my mind permanently: they are people I think about. Their conversation is dry and plain, with an easy, western cadence, and the author's narration is similar. . . .
Haruf handles human relationships with fierce, reticent delicacy, exploring rage, fidelity, pity, honour, timidity, the sense of obligation; he deals with complex, barely stated moral issues, pushing perhaps towards an unspoken mysticism. Occasionally he risks and once or twice falls into sentimentality: but looking at the Holt novels as a whole, his courage and achievement in exploring ordinary forms of love – the enduring frustration, the long cost of loyalty, the comfort of daily affection – are unsurpassed by anything I know in contemporary fiction.