In Plainsong we are shown a picture of life in a Colorado ranching community. The novel focuses on the lives of teacher and his two young boys dealing with the loneliness after their mother leaves, two old cattle ranchers, and a teenage girl who is kicked out of her house when she discovers she is pregnant.
I suppose this story was supossed to be about life growing up in just such a small town, but to be honest I wasn't feeling it. The writing was terse and slow, almost plodding. one storyline involving the teacher, Tom Guthrie, was never wrapped up. I don't expect my books to be tied up in a pretty little bow at their end, but there was no rhyme or reason to not giving this storyline some sort of conclusion since so much time was spent on it. I also struggled to place when in time this book was set. it was published in 1999, and while the behavior of the teens in the book was consistent with that time-frame, the children Ike and Bobby and the McPherson brothers seemed out of place, as if they belonged to a much older era. I grew up in a Colorado ranching community, similar to this one, and was nearly the same age as the teenage girl Victoria at the time of publication, and I recognized nothing of my community in Haruf 's book. Not all experiences and towns are going to be identical, but there should have at least been some similarities.
This all sounds like I hated the book, but I did not. I just feel rather apathetic about it. I have heard so many good things about this author, and this book in particular, that I was certainly expecting more, even though I knew going in that it was a book in which nothing but life happens. Clearly Haruf is not for me, and I won't be seeking out his other books in the future.