Art Essays


Published March 22, 2019



By Kent Haruf

Alfred A. Knopf,  New York

Hardback, 2013, 258 pp.


Bill Henson put me onto Kent Haruf (1943-2014) a couple of years ago and I’ve been steadily working my way through his books. Benediction is the third part of a trilogy, following Plainsong (1999) and Eventide (2004). All Haruf’s books are set in the small fictional town of Holt, Colorado. It’s a town like countless others, in which ordinary people go about their lives – and deaths. Nothing much happens, but it’s always spellbinding. Haruf’s characters are either decent folk, or life’s victims, tortured by circumstances they are unable to control or understand. He writes in an unvarnished style that has been smoothed and sanded until there are no loose thoughts or adjectives. This book has been awaiting its day for months because I didn’t really want to come to the end of the sequence, but once started it was quickly finished. Everything that’s good about Americans may be found in Haruf’s work, and in these weird days that’s reassuring.