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Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Book Review

May 6, 2016

Our Souls at Night

Addie Moore and Louis Walters have been neighbours for years. But, after the death of their spouses, they now live on their own. Addie pays Louis a visit with an unusual proposition, that he come and stay with her at night. The result is a growing love born from mutual respect.

This is an unassuming novel, sparsely written with brief chapters that are a short story in their own right. It is the type of writing that conceals its craft.

For anyone who wants to know how to produce great writing through the thoughtful and perfect placement of some very ordinary words, then this is the book to study.

These are two unremarkable people who, although their lives have not been without complications, have not set the world on fire. Yet the tell of their day to day activities draws and holds you within Addie and Louis’s lives so completely there is a real sense of loss when you’ve finished the novel, making you want to begin it all over again.

The simplicity of the writing is its beauty. Its conversational feel is as if someone has sat down next to you and is telling you all about Addie and Louis over a coffee or beer.

There are no quotation marks as the dialogue blends seamlessly with the narrative and yet remains clearly distinctive from it, while leaving no confusion as to who is talking to whom.

To read this book is to enter into a state of meditation, because there is such an incredible sense of peace and dignity in this story of quiet and undemanding love.

The small but significant things of everyday life become meaningful through their close and brilliantly described observation, because these are people towards the end of their life making every moment count. It may well be that with his own life soon to come to an end Kent Haruf entered a heightened state of awareness with regards to the little things that we usually ignore. But he was also a writer with the gift of being able to express them so succinctly on the page and make a profound impression on the reader.

Time to go through the rest of Haruf’s work and see how that changes my perspective of the world.

Our Souls at Night was courtesy of Pan Macmillan via NetGalley

From → Book Review, Literary

  1. Very interested to hear about the writing style here. I read a book without proper punctuation – no speech marks- recently, and found it quite hard to follow. Will check this out! Brontw

    • I usually need punctuation in the form of full stops etc to guide me. I was surprised to find that the lack of quote marks really didn’t bother me in this novel, but has in other books.
      This may be because Kent Haruf is such a good writer.
      I have to admit I had not heard of him before (to my shame), so now have the delight of catching up on his work.

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