March 5, 2021

Author Kent Haruf’s Swan Song: Our Souls At Night

I had frequently seen the name Kent Haruf as the author of perennial book club titles like Plainsong and Eventide, but I had never picked up one of his books until Our Souls At Night. There was something about the simple cover and brief jacket description that moved me deeply.

We are introduced to a widow, Addie Moore who asks a widowed neighbor, Louis Waters if he will come to her home nightly, sleep in her bed and talk until they fall asleep. This is no prurient proposition but a bargain made to stave off the loneliness of night.

The interweaving of their lives proceeds with her grandson coming to live with her, Louis buying the boy a dog and the townsfolk and relatives expressing their displeasure at this couple living in sin, at their age.

The novella has added emotional impact since Haruf wrote this knowing he was dying of lung cancer. The slim volume was published posthumously, leaving one last gift to his devoted readers. I’m late to the literary party, but I plan to read more of this author’s quiet and elegant writing.

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