Spring Author Series: Kent Haruf
Spend an evening at the library with author Kent Haruf. This community talk is free.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
|About the author
Kent Haruf is the author of Plainsong, which received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Maria Thomas Award in Fiction, and The New Yorker Book Award. Plainsong was also a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award. He is also the author of The Tie That Binds, Eventide and Where You Once Belonged, which received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the Pen/Hemingway Foundation. He has been awarded the Dos Passos Prize for Literature and a Stegner Award.
Haruf's new novel is Benediction, a story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado. Booklist calls it, “Reverberant… From the terroir and populace of his native American West, the author of Plainsong and Eventide again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions.”
Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado, a hospital in Arizona, a library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, and universities in Nebraska and Illinois.
All of his novels are set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. Holt is loosely based on Yuma, Colorado, an early residence of Haruf in the 1980s. Photograph by Michael Lionstar
Kent Haruf's Reading List
A story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado. When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them. Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad's condition stirs up of her own mother's death. Meanwhile, the town's newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors. Despite the travails that each of these families faces, together they form bonds strong enough to carry them through the most difficult of times. Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way. Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering and, above all, the humanity of its inhabitants.
When the McPheron brothers see Victoria Roubideaux, the single mother they'd taken in, move from their ranch to begin college, an emptiness opens before them--and for many other townspeople it also promises to be a long, hard winter. A young boy living alone with his grandfather helps out a neighbor whose husband, off in Alaska, suddenly isn't coming home, leaving her to raise their two daughters. At school the children of a disabled couple suffer indignities that their parents know all too well in their own lives, with only a social worker to look after them and a violent relative to endanger them further. But in a small town a great many people encounter one another frequently, often surprisingly, and destinies soon become entwined--for good and for ill--as they confront events that sorely test the limits of their resilience and means, with no refuge available except what their own character and that of others afford them. Spring eventually does reach across the land, and how the people of Eventide get there makes for an engrossing, profoundly moving novel rich in the wisdom, humor, and humanity for which Kent Haruf is justly acclaimed.
The Tie that Binds
Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself. In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith's tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family--and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom. Breathtaking, determinedly truthful, The Tie That Binds is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the arduous demands of rural America, and of the tenacity of the human spirit.
Where You Once Belonged
The red Cadillac pulled down Main Street and sat by the tavern for hours, unnoticed. Then Ralph Bird of the Men's Store recognized the driver as Jack Burdette and bolted to the sheriff's office. The prodigal son of Holt, Colorado, had returned--and he was far from welcome. In Where You Once Belonged , acclaimed novelist Kent Haruf tells of a small-town hero who is dealt an enviable hand--and cheats with all of the cards. In prose as lean and supple as a spring switch, Haruf describes a high school football star who wins the heart of the loveliest girl in the county and the admiration of men twice his age. Fun-loving, independent, Burdette engages in the occasional prank. But when he turns into a man, his high jinks turn into crimes--with unspeakable consequences. Now, eight years later, Burdette has returned to commit his greatest trespass of all. And the people of Holt may not be able to stop him. Deftly plotted, defiantly honest, Where You Once Belonged sings the song of a wounded prairie community in a narrative with the earmarks of a modern American classic.
A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver. In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl -- her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house -- is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known. From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together -- their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and esthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition. Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a novel to care about, believe in, and learn from.
About the Spring Author Series at BWML
Bud Werner Memorial Library presents a series of free author talks throughout spring 2013. We proudly welcome Jim Davidson (March 18), Cheryl Strayed (April 11), Chris Bohjalian (April 17), Mary Roach (April 30) and Kent Haruf (May 15) to the library, and the Steamboat Springs community. Each of these diverse award-winning authors will speak about their literary works and their writing processes during a talk in Library Hall. Each talk will be followed by a Q&A and an opportunity to have authors sign copies of their books.
Books will be for sale on-site at the event courtesy of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.
THANK YOU to Bear Claw Condominiums/BREO Inc. for their generous support of this program!