Prairie novels by Haruf and Ford
I’ve read two prairie novels recently, Canada by Richard Ford and Benediction by Kent Haruf. I wrote a review of Benediction for The Christian Century.
Canada is a good story, driven forward through physical action and innocent narration. Ford is an heir of Hemingway in style and content, and his novel Canada is a success and an achievement.
The American prairie is the stage of our imagination of progress and, more and more, the stage of American isolation and loneliness. I wonder what I would be without the prairie, where I grew up, in my heart.
From Canada by Richard Ford:
Loneliness, I’ve read, is like being in a long line, waiting to reach the front where it’s promised something good will happen. Only the line never moves, and other people are always coming in ahead of you, and the front , the place where you want to be, is always farther and farther away until you no longer believe it has anything to offer you. page 239
…assimilating…wasn’t so hard and risky and didn’t need to be permanent…This state of mind conferred another freedom on me and was like starting life over, or as I’ve already said, becoming someone else–but someone who was not stalled but moving, which was the nature of things in the world. I could like it or hate it, but the world would change around me no matter how I felt. page 253
The occurrence that substituted for the passage of time, day to day, was the weather. Weather means more than time on the prairie, and it measures the changes in oneself that are invisibly occurring. page 263