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Customer Review

124 of 143 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written book..., June 9, 2000
This review is from: Plainsong (Hardcover)
I believe this book was nominated for an award or two, and it is well written and easy to read in a sitting or two. The story line is familiar--life in a small town in a rural setting. Most of us live in urban areas these days, but many have parents or grandparents who lived in small towns, or can imagine life in a place where everyone knows everyone.
Any number of books including murder mysteries are set in towns or villages. This is a refreshing book because the characters are real but not psychotic. They all have too much going on in their own lives to meddle with others or murder a neighbor. Haruf depicts the day to day struggle--to get out of bed, to get to work, to do your job, to find love. You come to care about his characters, particularly Maggie Jones the school teacher who brings people together. It is Maggie who understands the needs of the McPheron brothers, Vitoria Roubideaux, and Tom Guthrie. She isn't a do-good Mrs. Fix-it either, just a kindly person who cares enough to make a useful suggestion, lend a helping hand, or offer a word of encouragement. In the end, all the characters whose lives have been touched by Maggie's simple grace have formed a better life for themselves.
My only criticism of the book is that it lacks a sense of connectedness with the setting. The characterization is strong and the plot is straightforward, but I did not feel "present" in the story. I had the sense I was moving underwater and only vaguely comprehended my surroundings. It's the feeling I've had when coming out from under general anesthesia. I could not latch onto the story the same way I did with Jane Smiley's "Thousand Acres" where I could almost see and touch and smell the land.
I sent my 85-year old Aunt (retired school teacher and high school counselor who lives in rural Wisconsin) the audio version of the book and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She said it sounded "real" to her and Victoria reminded her of any number of girls she had known while she was teaching.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 19, 2009 7:51:03 AM PDT
coalpuss says:
OK, I have read one positive and one negative review. Am now convinced this book is not for me. I have a childhood friend who lives in a town of less than 2,000 people and her life is so foreign to me, that I cannot comprehend it, nor do I wish to. I have enough stresses in my urban life to know that reading this book without quotation marks is simply too boring for me to continue. Thanks for your comments. I too, cannot connect with the people. Color me gone.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2009 8:23:51 PM PDT
D. W. Guido says:
What a shame. You diss a life you know nothing about -- a life that is incomparably better lived in a small town in a beautiful mountain setting than in some large, dirty, gritty, dangerous, random and common soulless big city. One is the same as the other. Having lived in both, there is no compare. I pray you lose open that tiny brain and heart to realize the closeted cold life one lives in a big city is... well, it isn't really worth commenting now, is it?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2012 1:26:32 PM PST
T. Allbaugh says:
It truly is too bad that so many of us are unable to engage in an act of imagination, that we are too busy to imagine other lives than our own.
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