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Benediction Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 26, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 503 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Plainsong Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013: Kent Haruf writes about small towns and regular people, but don’t underestimate his ambition. He is writing about life, and to do that he has returned again and again--first with Plainsong, later with Eventide--to the small town of Holt, located on the eastern plains of Colorado. In Benediction, Haruf introduces us to Dad Lewis, a 77-year-old hardware store owner who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The experience of reading Haruf is a slow burn, but as we meet the people who gather around Dad Lewis in his final days we begin to see that this is a book about community, about the things that bind us, as well as the secrets we keep to ourselves. Haruf writes with a tense, quiet realism that elevates life and death, granting both a dignity that touches on poetry. --Chris Schluep

From Booklist

*Starred Review* From the terroir and populace of his native American West, the author of Plainsong (1999) and Eventide (2004) again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions. The last, dying days of old Dad Lewis supply the framework for this sober yet reverberant novel. Dad owns a store in a small Colorado town, and his terminal illness draws out the compassion of his adult daughter, whom Dad wants to take over his business upon his imminent passing, and sparks an arousal in his long-devoted wife to seek some degree of resolution to an unhealed family wound. Dad’s closing days also stir emotions in other town residents who are in Dad’s realm of acquaintances, including the girl who moved in next door to stay with her grandmother and whose memories of her deceased mother remain raw; the new minister in town who suddenly rebels against the reluctance of his congregation to think about new ideas; and a mother and daughter, the former advanced in years and the latter now in middle age, who still confront traits in each other that they would just as soon not see. --Brad Hooper

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307959880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307959881
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (503 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this novel in what must now be considered Haruf's "Holt, Colorado" series, the central character is "Dad" Lewis, a man at the end of his life. With the assistance of a hospice nurse, Dad is being cared for at home by his wife and middle-aged daughter in his final weeks. Although a central theme is Dad's internal process of coming to peace with his life and impending death, a number of other stories are told simultaneously: The son is estranged from the family, and no-one even knows where he is; a minister who already has a troubled past gets into further trouble with his church in Holt; a neighbor is raising her grand-daughter; a mother and daughter who are friends of the Lewis family have their own stories to tell.

Kent Haruf is a masterful writer and story teller. Any one of his characters in this book could be the basis for his next book -- I can hardly wait to find out which one he will choose for his next Holt novel, as you want to know more about each of his characters: Not a single one is boring or two dimensional. As someone who grew up in eastern Nebraska, and traveled quite a bit in the area he describes (I have a number of cousins in western Nebraska), I thought he got the character of the people right -- slow to change but willing to change if convinced that the change is needed; kind but taciturn; a sense of community but ruggedly independent; generally fair and principled, but sometimes behaving badly.

My only complaint (other than the fact that my review copy was missing 9 pages!) is that Haruf has adopted the contemporary fad of not using quotation marks.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
BENEDICTION by Kent Haruf is a beautifully written, elegant work of perfect simplicity and nuanced specificity. With fluid prose of quiet precision he has given us an intimate story of poetic realism, an observation of the contours and textures of the present moment, an evocation of the interstices of the human experience.

Haruf has taken ordinary narrative threads of ordinary people and woven an extraordinary tapestry of real life with them. He has transformed situations common in day-to-day experience into those richly uncommon, providing a sense of transparency and truth, enabling us to examine the life of his imagined characters in the small town of Holt, Colorado as clearly as we can examine our own.

The story is centered on Dad Lewis, an old man at the end of his long, productive life, dying at home from an aggressive cancer and surrounded by his beloved wife of more than half a century-Mary, his devoted daughter Lorraine, his closest friends, neighbors, employees, a young child named Alice, the preacher from his church-the Reverend Lyle, and the dedicated hospice nurse.

While we read this story of how a simple man, his family and his community prepare for his death we feel as if we are engaging company with each of these people. Having recently experienced the end of my stepfather's life in hospice, Dad Lewis's story from the time of his diagnosis of terminal cancer until his passing is tremendously resonant with me - so much so that even now as I write this review I weep.

Haruf's precise eye for elemental description of his setting on the high plains of Colorado is a remarkable conveyance of sense of place.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
BENEDICTION is a pensive novel about the dailiness of life in a small town, the neighborly kindnesses as well as the regrets and missed chances that haunt its residents. At times it's more a lament than a benediction.

"Dad" Lewis is the central character. He only has a few weeks left to live. Knowing this makes him treasure events and places that once seemed ordinary and unspecial. As his life draws to a close, he allows himself to revert to a childlike authenticity. He finally tells people what he really thinks of them, and he gives in to emotions we learn to suppress and deny as we grow into adulthood. He lets himself weep as he contemplates the loss of life's most basic contentments -- the rhythms of our days that seem commonplace, but become dear as the end approaches.

This is not a novel you read for plot. There's not much action or conflict or conquest. I enjoyed it for the simple genius of the writing and the author's ability to excavate the human heart and mind. The approach is somewhat similar to Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG, OHIO, although Haruf's prose is more restrained and pleasurable to read. Both books examine the secret longings and regrets of small-town folk, and the narrowing of opportunities imposed by small-town attitudes.

I recommend BENEDICTION for readers seeking the most realistic fiction you're likely to find. Kent Haruf is peerless in his ability to observe the poignancy and pathos of human experience and commit it to paper in its barest essence.

NOTE: Kent Haruf does not use quotation marks in his dialogue. Usually this is something that would bother me quite a bit. However, Haruf's style is so clean and simple that it wasn't a problem for me with this particular book.
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