Kent Haruf’s last book, Our Souls at Night, completed very shortly before he died and published in May, was one of the few books I’ve ever pre-ordered on Amazon. I simply had to own the book as soon as I could. But here’s the thing: I let the book sit in my library without reading it month after month, and for a simple reason. I could almost not bear reading the last words written by one of my favorite authors, knowing I would never be visiting the fictional town of Holt, Colorado, again. Well, except for the many times I will reread all of Haruf’s novels.
I read the book in one morning, and nearly in one sitting. That’s not an exceptional fact as the book is only 180-some pages long. I tried my best to read ever so slowly, savoring every word.
Our Souls at Night tells the story of septuagenarian Addie Moore, widowed for some time, who pays a visit late one evening to her equally-aged neighbor who had lost his wife years before as well. She has a proposal. Let’s sleep together. Not sex; just closeness and talking. The neighbor, Louis Waters, is understandably surprised. But upon taking it into consideration, he decides to give it a try.
What follows is a beautifully poignant story about love, friendship, aging, and family, and finally finding the meaning of life as they approach the end of life. As with all of Haruf’s novels, the story isn’t a driving factor. Instead, it’s about the characters and Haruf’s wonderful dialogue. As far as I’m concerned, there is no author better at capturing the way people really talk.
The story was joyful, but ultimately broke my heart, both because of the storyline (which I assure you doesn’t end tragically, just left a lump in my throat) and because it was the author’s swan song.
While Our Souls at Night can’t compare to his first novel, Plainsong, it was a wonderful final effort and a tremendous gift to his many fans.
I wish you could publish from heaven…..