Author: Kent Haruf
Originally published: 2013
This is a top shelf book.
I had picked up Benediction a few times at work, scanning the inside flap and thinking to myself, “This sounds interesting.” I would then proceed to place it back on the shelf. It was consistently on my “to read” list but had yet to make it to the top of the pile until I saw it named the Indigo Spotlight best read of 2013 and a coworker read it, quite happily, in one night.
So I bought it that day.
Benediction by Kent Haruf is a story about people. It’s a story about life, death, and everything that happens in between. It simply and honestly looks at the relationships we share with people, with the places we grew up, and the permanent marks those things leave on us. Haruf portrays his characters refreshingly without judgement although they are, at times, quite flawed.
As a person who has flaws, as most of us do, I found this accepting take on human nature to be beautiful.
The prose is simple and clean. Haruf takes some liberties grammatically – particularly in regard to quotation marks – which I would normally be miffed by but somehow the absence of these marks lends itself to the simplicity of the rest of the writing.
It is a quick and easy read with nothing overwhelming but don’t let that fool you into thinking it will be easy to read emotionally. I found myself touched by the characters quite deeply, moved by their individual attempts to rediscover, absolve, and accept themselves. If you have ever lost someone, loved someone, missed someone, or regretted what you did to someone, you will understand at least one person in this novel.
Touching on everything from how humans deal with flawed parenting, moving back home, homosexuality, religion, and impending death, Haruf wonderfully intertwines the stories of his characters into a tale of moving depth. I laughed, cried, and thought about the people and found myself ultimately in awe of the powerful uncomplicatedness of Benediction.