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Benediction (Vintage Contemporaries) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 14. Januar 2014

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“His finest-tuned tale yet. . . . There is a deep, satisfying music to this book, as Haruf weaves between such a large cast of characters in so small a space. . . . Strangely, wonderfully, the moment of a man's passing can be a blessing in the way it brings people together. Benediction recreates this powerful moment so gracefully it is easy to forget that, like [the town of] Holt, it is a world created by one man.” —John Freeman, The Boston Globe

"A quiet and profound statement about endings, about change and death and endurance, and about the courage it takes to finally let go. . . . What's remarkable is Haruf's ability, once again, to square quotidian events with what it means to be alive and bound in ordinary pleasure with ordinary people [with] a matter-of-fact tone, with spare declarative sentences and plain-speak among the characters that is, in its bare-bones clarity, often heartbreakingly authentic."  —Debra Gwartney, The Oregonian

“What Haruf makes of this patch of ground is magic [and] Benediction spreads its blessing over the entire town.  Haruf isn’t interested in evil so much as the frailties that defeat us – loneliness, a failure to connect with one another, the lack of courage to change. . . . [He] makes us admire his characters’ ability not only to carry on but also to enjoy simple pleasures.” —Dan Cryer, San Francisco Chronicle

“We’ve waited a long time for an invitation back to Holt, home to Kent Haruf’s novels. . . He may be the most muted master in American fiction [and] Benediction seems designed to catch the sound of those fleeting good moments [with] scenes Hemingway might have written had he survived.” —Ron Charles, Washington Post

"A lovely book, surprisingly rich in character and event without any sense of being crowded. . . . Haruf is a master in summing up the drama that already exists in life, if you just pay attention." —Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Absorbing [and] evocative. . . . Haruf doesn’t offer us any facile reconciliations. The blessings in Benediction are [not] easily won. For that very reason they are all the more believable and all the more unforgettable.” – Richard Wakefield, The Seattle Times

"Splendid. . . . As the expertly crafted structure of Benediction emerges, it becomes clear that [Haruf's many] characters trace the arc of a life. . . as we join [a good but flawed man] in his deepening appreciation for those around him, while counting down the remaining hours, in his life and our own." —Mike Fischer, Portland Press Herald

“Remarkable. . . . Haruf paints indelible portraits of drifting days that reveal unexpected blessings. . . . We may not always recognize the best moments—maybe because they are often as simple as eating off the good china at a backyard picnic—but he understands their power to make us human.” —Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald

"Itself a blessing. . . spare and unencumbered. . . . Haruf's great skill is in describing the plain ways of people who live in small places [and the war] going on between good and evil that we recognize as part of our nature. This is what makes Benediction a universal story, not a hometown tale." —Michael D. Langan, The Buffalo News

“Quiet, and intimate, and beautiful.” —Lisa McLendon, The Wichita Eagle
“If Hemingway had had more soul, he would've written a book like Benediction.” —Emma Broder, The Chicago Maroon

"Incisive, elegiac, and rhetorically rich. . . his finest expression yet of an aesthetic vision that, in spite of its exacting verisimilitude, achieves a mythic dimension rare in contemporary fiction. . . . Haruf's art is rigorous but transparent. Scene after scene, we appreciate that we are in the hands of a master of complex storytelling disguised as simple observation. . . . Reading [him], I am often reminded of the great Russian realists, who have a similar compressed intensity and who spent much of their writing time examining the lives of ordinary people living in small communities in wide-open spaces." —Kevin Stevens, The Dublin Review of Books

Benediction suggests there’s no end to the stories Haruf can tell about Holt or to the tough, gorgeous language he can summon in the process.” —Paul Elie, The New York Times Book Review

“Haruf is the master of what one of his characters calls 'the precious ordinary'. . . . With understated language and startling emotional insight, he makes you feel awe at even the most basic of human gestures.” —Ben Goldstein, Esquire

“Grace and restraint are abiding virtues in Haruf's fiction, and they resume their place of privilege in his new work. . . . For readers looking for the rewards of an intimate, meditative story, it is indeed a blessing.” —Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Haruf is maguslike in his gifts. . . to illuminate the inevitable ways in which tributary lives meander toward confluence. . . . Perhaps not since Hemingway has an American author triggered such reader empathy with so little reliance on the subjectivity of his characters. . . . [This] is a modestly wrought wonder from one of our finest living writers.” —Bruce Machart, The Houston Chronicle

“Both sad and surprisingly uplifting in its honest and skillful examination of death, families and friendship.” —Jason Swensen, Deseret News

“As Haruf's precise details accrue, a reader gains perspective: This is the story of a man's life, and the town where he spent it, and the people who try to ease its end. . . . His sentences have the elegance of Hemingway's early work [and his] determined realism, which admits that not all of our past actions or the reasons behind them are knowable, even to ourselves, is one of the book's satisfactions.” —John Reimringer, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Reverberant… From the terroir and populace of his native American West, the author of Plainsong and Eventide again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions.” – Brad Hooper, Booklist

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Writers’ Award, the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, the Wallace Stegner Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation; he has also been a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award.   He lives with his wife, Cathy, in their native Colorado.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 489 Rezensionen
125 von 131 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Beautifully told story of life in a small town on the Great Plains 30. Januar 2013
Von M. C. Crammer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
In this novel in what must now be considered Haruf's "Holt, Colorado" series, the central character is "Dad" Lewis, a man at the end of his life. With the assistance of a hospice nurse, Dad is being cared for at home by his wife and middle-aged daughter in his final weeks. Although a central theme is Dad's internal process of coming to peace with his life and impending death, a number of other stories are told simultaneously: The son is estranged from the family, and no-one even knows where he is; a minister who already has a troubled past gets into further trouble with his church in Holt; a neighbor is raising her grand-daughter; a mother and daughter who are friends of the Lewis family have their own stories to tell.

Kent Haruf is a masterful writer and story teller. Any one of his characters in this book could be the basis for his next book -- I can hardly wait to find out which one he will choose for his next Holt novel, as you want to know more about each of his characters: Not a single one is boring or two dimensional. As someone who grew up in eastern Nebraska, and traveled quite a bit in the area he describes (I have a number of cousins in western Nebraska), I thought he got the character of the people right -- slow to change but willing to change if convinced that the change is needed; kind but taciturn; a sense of community but ruggedly independent; generally fair and principled, but sometimes behaving badly.

My only complaint (other than the fact that my review copy was missing 9 pages!) is that Haruf has adopted the contemporary fad of not using quotation marks. For most dialogue, I managed to separate dialogue from description without the quotation marks, but there were paragraphs where I had to reread a few sentences to figure out if someone was speaking, and if so, who. They invented quotation marks for a good reason: it makes it so much easier to read a book! In a day when fewer people are reading, why go out of your way to make reading harder because it looks more literary? Haruf is a brilliant writer and doesn't need to worry about publishing fads.
52 von 58 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
"Benediction-the utterance of a blessing, an invocation of blessedness." 28. Januar 2013
Von Evelyn Getchell - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
BENEDICTION by Kent Haruf is a beautifully written, elegant work of perfect simplicity and nuanced specificity. With fluid prose of quiet precision he has given us an intimate story of poetic realism, an observation of the contours and textures of the present moment, an evocation of the interstices of the human experience.

Haruf has taken ordinary narrative threads of ordinary people and woven an extraordinary tapestry of real life with them. He has transformed situations common in day-to-day experience into those richly uncommon, providing a sense of transparency and truth, enabling us to examine the life of his imagined characters in the small town of Holt, Colorado as clearly as we can examine our own.

The story is centered on Dad Lewis, an old man at the end of his long, productive life, dying at home from an aggressive cancer and surrounded by his beloved wife of more than half a century-Mary, his devoted daughter Lorraine, his closest friends, neighbors, employees, a young child named Alice, the preacher from his church-the Reverend Lyle, and the dedicated hospice nurse.

While we read this story of how a simple man, his family and his community prepare for his death we feel as if we are engaging company with each of these people. Having recently experienced the end of my stepfather's life in hospice, Dad Lewis's story from the time of his diagnosis of terminal cancer until his passing is tremendously resonant with me - so much so that even now as I write this review I weep.

Haruf's precise eye for elemental description of his setting on the high plains of Colorado is a remarkable conveyance of sense of place. He writes these scenes with clear, spare beauty - he is a master of doing more with less and focusing on the showing rather than the telling.

Haruf's gentle prose needs no adornment in order to evoke the power and integrity of its truth. It's as if he has subtly hidden profound Zen koans or the moral beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount in this sensitive, deeply affecting narrative of life, death and grace. It's as if he has fused together in the crucible of the heart - pain and suffering, acceptance and forgiveness, love and compassion - and blessed us with a personal yet universal gift... the very essence of humanity.
29 von 31 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Treasuring The Simple Things 14. März 2013
Von Someone Else - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
BENEDICTION is a pensive novel about the dailiness of life in a small town, the neighborly kindnesses as well as the regrets and missed chances that haunt its residents. At times it's more a lament than a benediction.

"Dad" Lewis is the central character. He only has a few weeks left to live. Knowing this makes him treasure events and places that once seemed ordinary and unspecial. As his life draws to a close, he allows himself to revert to a childlike authenticity. He finally tells people what he really thinks of them, and he gives in to emotions we learn to suppress and deny as we grow into adulthood. He lets himself weep as he contemplates the loss of life's most basic contentments -- the rhythms of our days that seem commonplace, but become dear as the end approaches.

This is not a novel you read for plot. There's not much action or conflict or conquest. I enjoyed it for the simple genius of the writing and the author's ability to excavate the human heart and mind. The approach is somewhat similar to Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG, OHIO, although Haruf's prose is more restrained and pleasurable to read. Both books examine the secret longings and regrets of small-town folk, and the narrowing of opportunities imposed by small-town attitudes.

I recommend BENEDICTION for readers seeking the most realistic fiction you're likely to find. Kent Haruf is peerless in his ability to observe the poignancy and pathos of human experience and commit it to paper in its barest essence.

NOTE: Kent Haruf does not use quotation marks in his dialogue. Usually this is something that would bother me quite a bit. However, Haruf's style is so clean and simple that it wasn't a problem for me with this particular book.
12 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Death, Life and Now 5. März 2013
Von Mark Stevens - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
"Benediction" says we all matter. Each of us. You.

"Benediction" looks at our faint footprints on the surface of the earth and says, quite simply, that each step counts.

Kent Haruf takes us back to Holt, Colorado. We return to the land of "Plainsong" and "Eventide," but there are only a couple of faint references to the characters who absorbed our attention during those two novels. If "Benediction" is the cap on a trilogy (and Kent Haruf says it's really not), then it's a trilogy by landscape, not character.

Except the landscape, out in eastern Colorado, seems to form the character. These are hard, rough-hewn lives. You hear the car tires crunch on the gravel streets, feel the wind blow and the sun beat down. If you live out here, you work.

Haruf doesn't judge. He's neutral. He's a documentarian. There are few books like these three (the only three of Haruf's that I've read) that will give you that in-the-moment feeling. The tone of the words says, "here is what's happening and there's nothing I can do to change it." The plot, if that's even the right word, is as organic as the soil. By the way, while "Benediction" feels even more terse and tidy than "Plainsong" (and that's saying something), there is also an awful lot of plot in "Benediction."

We are never ahead of the characters, nor are we encouraged to think about them one way or another. Haruf is their silent, stalking shadow. He doesn't push them from behind or tug them from in front.

Their actions are their actions, driven by how they think and their internal moral compass.

In "Benediction," the story settles on dying "Dad" Lewis and his wife Mary and their children, one estranged son and one daughter. "Benediction" encircles the lives of others in town, too, and we leave Dad and his decline for many pages at a time. He's in hospice; the outcome here is not in question.

There are only a few references that will place this story in any given period of time and those are so vague that "Benediction" takes on a dream-like quality. Not one commercial product (like the make and model of pickup) is recorded.

Haruf's detailed, up-close style manages to make the characters both intimate and universal at the same time. It's as if Haruf has the code to each character's soul.

For me, the most powerful ideas in "Benediction" revolve around the contrast between Dad's apparently secular life and the rebellion sparked in church when a new pastor suggests a radical form of international forgiveness. The pastor's idea is clearly just a theoretical, rhetorical question designed to test the congregation's appetite for peace, but even the concept is enough to trigger trouble. Imagine that.

At the same time we see Dad do the small things that suggest true community comes one conversation and one gesture at a time.

Banish the thought if you think any of this might dip, just for a flash, into sentimentality. Haruf never wavers. Death is death. Life is life. Now is now. Despite the use of a religious term for the title, "Benediction" is no ode to the power of a church. It's about the power of the individual. Haruf's spare, precise prose celebrates each person. We see individuals because Haruf sees distinct people in sharp relief.

"Benediction" is both bleak and beautiful, but I'll remember the beautiful and the reverence this novel holds for each human being.

"Benediction" makes us feel a bit better about ourselves.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Beautifully written, simply told story about life, death, love, regret and the relationships that bind us... 8. März 2013
Von Larry Hoffer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
I've always been utterly captivated by Kent Haruf's storytelling ability. In novels like Plainsong and Eventide, the simplicity of his writing was used to such terrific advantage. The characters he creates are everyday people with everyday challenges (for the most part), and in a world where all too often more is more, his stories don't dwell on unnecessary drama yet touch your heart and make you think.

The same holds true for Haruf's newest novel, Benediction. In the small town of Holt, Colorado, longtime resident and hardware store owner Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he and his wife, Mary, begin planning for the end of his life and endeavor to make his final days as comfortable and stress-free as possible. While their grown daughter, Lorraine, comes home to help care for her father, her presence doesn't quite assuage the sadness and uncertainty Dad and Mary feel about their estranged son, Frank, who left Holt after he graduated high school and never returned. And as Dad's last days draw closer, reminiscences about his difficult relationship with Frank, as well as other precarious situations he found himself in throughout his life, come rushing back to challenge him.

Next door to the Lewises, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother, Berta May, following the death of her own mother to cancer. She becomes a captivating presence for the Lewises, especially Lorraine, and Alice's curiosity and innocence also bring joy to the lives of Willa Johnson and her daughter, Alene, both of whom have struggled with loneliness in different ways. Meanwhile, Rob Lyle, Holt's new preacher, tries to mend his own difficult relationships with his wife and teenage son, John Wesley, both of whom resent having to move to this small town. And when Rob decides to start expressing his true feelings in his sermons, he is met with outrage and ridicule from his congregation, which further strains his family's tolerance of the situation.

Although it takes some time, these seemingly disparate characters weave together to form a rich and moving meditation on life, happiness, love, sadness, perseverance, and the beauty of life's simple joys. There is tension and relaxation, happiness and regret, all played out against the backdrop of Dad's ever-present mortality. While not a tremendous amount happens in the book, the story is so well told, so beautifully written, that you feel like you know these people and can share, and understand, how they feel.

I still believe that Plainsong, probably Haruf's most recognized novel, is his best, but Benediction is a worthy addition to his earlier works. If you like plain, strong, beautiful writing, this is definitely a book for you.
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