Benediction is actually my first book by Kent Haruf, but will not be my last. I mean, he’s five books in… I’ve clearly got a lot of catching up to do.
Everything about his delicate writing style–tone, word choice, length of sentences, thematic overlap, character interaction, everything–complements everything else in an achievement that can only be reached by two kinds of writers, in my opinion: those with immense artistry and technical ability, and those with a deep empathetic, understanding of his four-dimensional characters.
Kent Haruf, I feel, is a perfect blend of both. With such an intimate understanding of his characters’ rich life stories, his skill for using clear, tough language simply and surgically mines their inner worlds, one by one, while wrenching your heart deeper into the greater story of death, rebirth and Dad Lewis, a name so perfectly, universally representative.
A good reader will see Haruf’s characters and the story that transpires as clearly as the hard landscape, and love him for the window into their lives. A great one will read the character of the whole book, from its first sentence to its last, and feel the current of his or her own life alongside those in the quiet, transitional world of a town named Holt the high plains of Colorado.
The more I think about it, the more I enjoy it. On to the next/previous one!