Friday, April 11, 2014

Benediction by Ken Haruf - Book Review

          This is the story of life and death on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado.  Much of the story focuses on people who live in this town.  It includes Dad Lewis, who’s dying of cancer and how his family is taking care of him.  The other part of the story is a preacher in the small town who is trying to mend his relationship with his family. 

          Throughout the book, there are flashbacks from the past to the present.  In Dad Lewis’ case, the flashbacks include memories of his son, Frank,  and how he was estranged from him.  There is Lorraine, who comes home to help Mary, Dad Lewis’s wife, take care of him in his last days.  

          The plot is built up through the flashbacks, which will make you wonder what happened to Frank by the end of the story.  The flashbacks also lead to incidents in Frank’s life as well as a problem in Frank’s store where someone was stealing from him.  

           As far as the writing is concerned, it’s simple to follow.  In fact, there were many times that I thought that I was reading a story by Raymond Carver.  Haruf’s style is similar to Carver’s and it shows many times throughout the story through the simple descriptions of the characters.  Here is a good example 

           Rob Lyle was a man in his late 40’s, new to town, a tall thin man with black hair and dark eyes.  

           On one hand, you can say the characters were memorable, but there ere times that the characters didn’t seem believable.  Not that I want to give anything away but when Dad Lewis fires someone for stealing, the wife offers to sleep with him in order to make up for what the husband did.  

            The story is a great literary portrayal of a modern family in a small town in Colorado.  Part of me wondered why it was necessary to include the preacher in the story.  It seemed to me that the story became fragmented because of that.  Not that it was hard to follow, I just didn’t understand the point of including them in the story.  I would have liked the story more if the focus was on Dad lewis.  

             With that said, I would say that if I rated this story, it would be 3 stars.  

Ron Hummer

No comments:

Post a Comment