Kent Haruf - Eventide

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Eventide - like a rich watercolor painting come to life

Jun 26, 2012 (Updated Jun 26, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The realism, the depth of the characters, the inter-weaving stories

Cons:Excessive detail, slow pace

The Bottom Line: A good snapshot of the daily struggles of ordinary people trying to survive and find happiness.  Not for the impatient reader.

“Eventide” is an old-fashioned term for evening or dusk.  This is a full-length novel about the daily lives of the people in a small town in Colorado called Holt.  It is told by each chapter describing the events in the lives of certain people.  Given that it is a small town, those events often intersect and interact.

Two of the main people being followed are Raymond McPheron and his brother Harold.  After one of them dies, we see how the other one adapts and rebuilds his life.  Neither one had ever married and had never left the home they grew up in.  They are cattle ranchers.  Meanwhile, we meet Luther and Betty Wallace and their children.  Luther and Betty are generally well-meaning but not very bright.  Complicating their lives is Betty's uncle, Hoyt, who drinks a lot and can be very aggressive, even when he is sober.

Another story line follows a boy named DJ and his grandfather.  DJ is small for his age and gets picked on but is a good kid.  Their neighbor, Mary Wells, is struggling after her husband decided to not return from his trip to Alaska to work.  Somewhat in the center of it all is a woman named Rose Tyler who works for Social Services, and seems to know just about everyone.

How will the sole remaining McPheron brother adapt and try to find happiness?  And who is young Victoria and her daughter Kate?  Will Betty and Luther lose their children?  Will Betty's uncle get his comeuppance?  Will DJ make any friends?  Will Rose Tyler find someone to date?  Will Mary Wells find a way to get out of her depression?

The author, Kent Haruf, does an excellent job of capturing the human condition.  His characters really come to life and you end up feeling like you know these people.  They are not all people you want to know, but they seem quite real.  There is not much action in the book, although Betty's uncle does supply some ugly drama.  Even though there are two characters who are clearly at the opposite ends of the good-bad spectrum, they both come off as genuine and credible.

There are two interconnected flaws in this book. The author goes into tremendous detail in describing his characters and their actions. In my mind, he goes overboard with detail. The consequence of this, besides giving you unnecessary information, is that the book has a very slow pace. The realism of the characters, however, makes you want to know how things turn out for them. It took a while for me to get into this novel but, once I did, there was no way that I was not going to see it through to the end. One oddity is that, despite a considerable amount of dialogue, there are no quotation marks to be found.

I am accustomed to reading and reviewing novels that clearly fit into a genre, usually science fiction or fantasy, with an occasional mystery or horror novel.  It has been a long time since I read a book that did not fit into a genre.  I bought this book for my father.  He has macular degeneration and reading is becoming a struggle, but he can read large print books.  Large print books are relatively scarce and can be very expensive compared to standard print books.  However, I bought this one at a reasonable price used, and it turned out to be a library discard in very good condition.  By the way, I believe that I have solved his reading problem, at least temporarily, by buying him a Kindle where you can adjust the font size and line spacing of any book you download.

Recommend this product? Yes

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