Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
|About the book, Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2015.
This is the final work of Kent Haruf as he has passed on. I had not heard of him, but was browsing in Barnes & Noble and read on the back of the book that Ursula Le Guin recommended the book, I figured it would be worth reading. It turned out to be a good choice.
In this novel, the author presents two main characters, both widowed, who have lived in the same neighborhood for most of their adult lives. It opens with Addie Moore visiting Louis Waters, whom she hardly knows, though she knew his wife, with an interesting proposition to cope with the loneliness of old age and widowhood. The book tells the story of the results of the choice they both make in very simple language. Along the way, their adult children enter, a 6 year old grandson, and some interactions with neighbors.
This book reminds me of The Bridges of Madison County, the first novel in a trilogy by Robert James Waller, published in 1992. Like Our Souls at Night, Mr. Waller’s story is a compelling, down to earth romance, and, as I recall, has a similar style. I was also reminded of a clinical book I read some years ago, Stories That Heal: Reparenting Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families Using Hypnotic Stories in Psychotherapy by Lee Wallas, W.W. Norton & Co. 1991. Wallas presents a clinical approach of using stories during a period of deep relaxation in the therapy room to help clients heal from trauma. Wallas makes use of the suggestibility common in people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder originating from child abuse as a strength, or ally, in the healing process. With this approach, therapist prompts client into relaxation using a focusing protocol, and when the client is fully relaxed, the therapist uses guided imagery, the same one each time, followed by a new short story. Each story is a brief description of appropriate parenting starting with pregnancy and moving through childhood. Wallas’s writing style in the healing stories is very similar to Kent Haruf’s style, and so, Our Souls at Night has a mildly suggestive quality, presenting pictures of true intimacy between two 70+year olds. As such, it is excellent bedtime reading. The images are compelling enough that I awakened this morning with my first thoughts focusing on the book. When that happens, I think I have found something truly worth reading.