Almost exactly a year ago, I declared a quest to read a book by an author from each state (read about it here). For Colorado at the urging of more than one of my readers, I chose a book by Kent Haruf, a native of Colorado who died in November 2014. The book I chose is Plainsong, which is the first book of a trilogy.
“This ain’t going to be no goddamn Sunday school picnic” (quote from book)
The book is set in the fictional town of Holt Colorado, located in the eastern plains near Kansas and Nebraska. According to New York Times author Verlyn Klinkenborg,
“Haruf has made a novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt the reader.”
In fact, the title Plainsong refers to unaccompanied church music that is typically sung in unison.
The book begins with teacher Tom Guthrue. His wife Ella is lying in the guest bedroom for who knows how long. Their sons, Ike and Bobby (9 and 10 years old) watch their mother slowly disappear mentally, until she physically leaves them.
High school student Victoria Roubideaux finds herself pregnant and evicted by her own mother. She turns to Maggie Jones, who is also a teacher. Maggie takes her in, but her senile father frightens Victoria. Maggie turns to the McPheron brothers, elderly gruff unmarried cattle farmers who agree to take her in.
The book follows these characters from fall until late spring. While the language is almost minimalistic, it packs a punch. There is heartbreak, grief and anger. But there is also love, humor and kindness – as well as beginnings of new lives and new families. The characters are decent, somewhat troubled human beings that are going on with their lives.
I loved this book, and I have the sequel Eventide to read! While the book is somewhat stark, it steers clear of melodrama and sentiment, telling the story of characters I deeply cared about.
I was just disappointed to find out Holt Colorado is a fictional town!
Some interesting facts about Colorado:
Is home to the world’s largest rodeo in Denver, The National Western Stock Show
Has the highest suspension bridge in the nation over the Royal Gorge
Pagosa Springs is the home of the deepest hot spring in the world
Colorado means “colored red” and is known as the Centennial State.
The US federal government owns more than 1/3 of the land in the state.
It contains 75% of the land mass in the US with an altitude over 10,000 feet.
The 13th step of the state-capital building in Denver is one mile above sea level.
There are 52 peaks over 14,000 ft.
“America the Beautiful” was inspired by the view from Pikes Peak
and my favorite fact:
The world famous Read Rocks Amphitheatre is located here – it took 300 million years to create!
Next up – Connecticut. I have to admit, my reading is ahead of my blogging – I had read through Delaware and have made preliminary choices through Hawaii. But – I’ll still take requests!!!!