Benediction (Vintage Contemporaries)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
From the beloved and best-selling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes 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.
skinny thin-faced boy, his hair a mess. You smell like her, she said. Don’t you. No. Yes, you smell like her. You have her odor. I hope you’re not being foolish about this. I hope you’re not going to get this girl pregnant. She’s on the pill. Is she. Did she tell you that? Yes. Do you believe her? Yes. Well, we can hope she’s not a little liar. Do you love her? It’s none of your business. Do you or not? Yes, I do. That’s good. I wouldn’t want it all to be for nothing. Just sex.
still want to? Yes, would you play the hymn, please? Yes. If that’s what you want. She began to play the introduction out loudly, with a kind of flourish. It seemed a sort of madness, a kind of miscalculation of the tone and temper of the moment. Lyle began to sing. He had a good voice. It was one of the old hymns Charles Wesley had written two centuries ago. A few of the others gradually, falteringly joined in. They got as far as the end of the first verse and the first refrain, then Lyle
ahead of us. Dad looked at Frank. I’ll see you, he said, take care of yourself, and he went out the door and they heard him going down the wood stairs. After a while Mary stood up and buttoned her coat and hugged Frank. You know that money was your dad’s idea. It was from him even more than me. I want you to know that. I appreciate it, Mom. I know that. Can I tell him? Whatever you want. But are you all right here, honey? I need to know. I never hear anything from you. Yes, I’m all right.
shook her head and went out to the backyard. They watched her through the window. She walked slowly into the shade under the tree and they watched her bend far over and touch the ground and lower herself onto her knees, wrapping herself in her arms, and now they could see she was crying, the top of her white head on the grass. Oh I should go out to her, Lorraine said. Look at her, the poor thing. No, I don’t think you should, Willa said. She has to do this. This is only the beginning. This is
all the lights on so she can see the house and come home. We should call the police now, Willa said. No. I can’t do that. Not yet. But they could look for her in ways we can’t. I don’t want them. I will pretty soon if I have to.… I will pretty soon. She looked around. They were watching her. I should go back inside. I’m not doing no good out here. Don’t go, Mary said. Stay here with us. I’m going all to pieces. You can see I am. We all feel that way, dear. Wait! Alene said. She was