Thoughts 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?
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.)
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?
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