Our Souls at Night

Thoughts osanbykh by Kent Haruf, Alfred A. Knopf New York 2015, 179 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2016 Short List
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: I had declared awhile ago of my interest; I reserved it at the library and it was now my turn.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: First let me tell you that I read the synopsis wrong or interpreted it incorrectly. Bear with me. I had thought it said that Addie Moore asked a neighbor to spend the night – not for physical contact but for conversation and a warm body of comfort in bed beside her. Hanky-panky was not what she had in mind despite and not caring what the town might have thought. This is all true.

But I had read LOUISE as the neighbor that Addie approached. It is clear from the very first page that  it was a Mr. Louis that she proposed her idea to. Uh, I had to have my world tilt a little. And that’s OK. And it doesn’t matter a hoot. It is still a lovely story about two people who come together and become friends and maybe something more; they treasure this new adventure – this experiment gone so beautifully well! But then outside influences must have their impact, their sway, their consequence considerations.

And I wonder amused at myself that if the story HAD gone with different gender exploration, somebody else reading it would probably have had a world-tilt. Either way, don’t we love a book to deliver tilts and shifts and new ways to look at things?

WHAT’s GOOD:  Sparse. Quick and subtle character development, effortless prose. I seem to mention pace a lot lately; this one was perfect. Fun and inquisitive at first, then happy and sunshine and smiles; but a turn, a slight ominousness seeps in and we know something not good is going to happen. Not foreshadowed exactly, but something clues us in to be wary and sure enough: UGH! We want to scream and get involved and WHAM! the book is over because it is less than two hundred pages.

FINAL THOUGHTS: We marvel at how much this short novel contains in its few pages. OK, when did I start saying WE?

 

necolo

I know this country somewhat – where this book is set. I lived in Kansas and I married a guy from Nebraska. I have relatives in Colorado. I’ve driven Interstate 70 and I’ve loved the fast speed on Interstate 80. I know this land as a frequent visitor. I have no idea where I’m going with this… I felt like I knew this town. But I expect Haruf made many readers feel like they knew his town of Holt Co (apparently he has set many a book  there – it’s fictional but very much ‘on the map’.) He was a celebrated author and this is his final book gift to the world.

Basically, this book is a study of friendship and the influences of family – who do we invite to BE family and how does that evolve? Can it really only be about two people’s relationship?

Who does ever get what they want? It doesn’t seem to happen to many of us if any at all. It’s always two people  bumping against each other blindly, acting out of old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I take away from all these books I read. Maybe I’m reading too many too fast. Tiny Beautiful Things really impacted this, too – Strayed referenced stories and poems throughout and she shared the lessons and meanings that literature have shaped her philosophies of life. She recommended a year off to just read poetry would be SO VALUABLE and it makes me question what I am doing with my story knowledge; what is this preparing me for? Am I doing life right? What am I achieving? I don’t read for entertainment solely, why exactly AM I reading what I’m reading? Part of this navel-gazing exercise is also forced upon me by my job search and a resume review I got last week about how it shows that I am a doer but not an achiever. Pissed me off. Ok, your turn. What do I do with all this crap in my head?

RATING:  Four slices of pie. No pie mentions that I noticed. (I did see a cake mention and had the wondering of why Addie hadn’t baked a pie. But that’s OK. She can make cake if she wants.)

fourpie

Have you read Our Souls at Night? I haven’t read any other reviews of it but I know lots and lots of people love it. Are you one of those? What did YOU take away?

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.
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12 thoughts on “Our Souls at Night

  1. I have this on my to-read list – I think it sounds good, so I’m glad you liked it. I haven’t read anything else by him yet, but I do have his first book, Plainsong, on my shelf, so I might have to read that one first.
    I also like the questions you’re asking about all the stuff in your head. I say store it up, you might need it someday. It must be good for something, right? At least, I like to think so.

  2. I’ve loved the books I’ve read by Haruf so I’m happy to see that this one will not disappoint. He’s so good at putting characters together in unlikely ways.

    I often wonder about my reading, too. Like when someone asks me what my favorite book for the year is in, say, June, and I can’t remember what I’ve read. I really WANT to be able to remember what I’ve read better, especially when I love the books.

  3. Ouch to that resume review comment. I had a resume review/critique session and the youngish reviewer agreed that I should color my graying hair before my next job interview. Ouch again!
    I have NEVER read a Kent Haruf book. I don’t like sparse, quiet, Midwestern novels, but then I listened to The Orchardist and loved it, and I didn’t think I liked quiet, Pacific Northwestern novels, either.

  4. Are you asking why we read? Or what we do with the information we learn from reading? I think the answer to both questions, whether you are asking them or not, is to learn about life. I am not necessarily going to ever put all of that learning to practical use, but everything I do learn shapes who I am and how I interact with others on this planet. Isn’t that enough?

  5. Pingback: Must Read! | Episyllogism

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