Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Death of a Great Writer

Kent Haruf has died. I believe he was one of the greatest writers or our time.  Haruf wrote about a small town in Colorado called Holt and gave his townspeople such sharp, realistic lives they cannot easily be forgotten. He surrounded his townspeople with the great turns of the seasons, detailing the vast western plains that were central to their inner lives.

It took him twenty years of writing before he was published.

 “If I had learned anything over those years of work and persistence, it was that you had to believe in yourself even when no one else did. And later I often said something like that to my graduate students. You have to believe in yourself despite the evidence. I felt as though I had a little flame of talent, not a big talent, but a little pilot-light-sized flame of talent, and I had to tend to it regularly, religiously, with care and discipline, like a kind of monk or acolyte, and not to ever let the little flame go out,” he wrote.

His final novel, Our Souls at Night, written when he knew he was dying, explores the theme of happiness.  One comment on the Guardian obituary gives good advice to readers just coming to Haruf. Start with the novel Plainsong, and carry on from there. 

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