three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
11-July-Aug-2004
By: 
Kent Haruf
user_rating: 
0

A-EventideIn this sequel to the 1999 bestseller and National Book Award finalist Plainsong, Haruf returns to the small town of Holt, Colorado to further chronicle the hard, often heartbreaking lives of its citizens. The story again centers on the McPherson brothers, aging ranchers who must part ways with Victoria Roubideaux and her child, whom they "adopted" in the first book. But other characters jump in to fill their void. A disabled couple tries to protect their small children from an abusive relative. Eleven-year-old DJ cares for his elderly, alcoholic grandfather. And social worker Rose shows Raymond McPherson new hope in the wake of tragedy.
Knopf. 320 pages. $24.95.

Newsday 4 of 5 Stars
"This novelist writes with such unabashed wonder before life’s mysteries, such compassion for frail humanity that he seems to have issued from another time, a better place." Dan Cryer

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"Writing in a style reminiscent of Hemingway, Haruf has a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue. … [He] has created another poignant meditation on the true meaning of family." April Henry

San Francisco Chronicle 3.5 of 5 Stars
"With Haruf peering into the lives of one lonely character after another, the tone of the novel may strike some readers as overly wistful. …[T]he author’s refusal to tie up the loose narrative threads he has spun may leave others perplexed." Brad Vice

Orlando Sentinel 3 of 5 Stars
"The plot is more episodic (and thus less unified) than that of the earlier book, and the writing is less edgy and often more transparent. … Despite these considerable shortcomings, Eventide is still well worth readers’ time." John Harper

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"It would be churlish in the extreme to object to much of this, and I hope as many people who loved Plainsong flock to the stores for the new installment. But they may be a little disappointed." Christopher Tilghman

Chicago Tribune 2.5 of 5 Stars
"There’s just something so subdued, almost to the point of repression or muteness, that pertains to these people that sometimes you want to take the innocent incompetents among them and shake them. … Hoyt, the only really nasty character in the town as we know it, is, ironically, the character who really pulls you along with great force. The other, gentle folks are … just that." Alan Cheuse

NY Times Book Review 2.5 of 5 Stars
"As a stylist, Haruf melds the hoof-clop cadences of Cormac McCarthy … with the pinched economy of Hemingway. … For all its admirable craftsmanship, Eventide is too goodhearted." Jonathan Miles

Critical Summary

Does Eventide live up to its predecessor? Critics disagree. Most found that while Eventide introduced the same sincere and compelling characters that populated Plainsong, this time around the story lacked an engine. Haruf, by mimicking the Hemingway-esque prose and McCarthy-esque Western plot of his previous novel, has written a sequel that closely resembles his first. But there’s nothing wrong with "self-plagiarism," notes The New York Times Book Review. It just gets dull. Yet Eventide still possesses many moments of great beauty, inspiration, and pain, not to mention tells a good yarn. If the episodic nature of the narrative leaves some loose ends, no worries. There’s a third installment coming soon.