Benediction by Kent Haruf is one of the selections of the book club. I just finished it minutes ago, and felt so moved that I needed to write about it. The story involved the final days of Dad Lewis who is dying of cancer. Now in his 80's, Dad (as he is affectionately known) plays out his close relationships with his wife Mary of fifty-plus years and their eldest child, Lorraine. Missing from the picture is their estranged son, Frank, who left home at 19 (thirty-plus years prior) when his father didn't know how to deal with his son's homosexuality. This certainly isn't my standard fair, but I have read two other books by Haruf, Plainsong and Eventide, and all three are things of beauty. His prose is simple and direct, yet conveys a deep sense of praise, family blessings, and the fullness of life. Benediction is all of these, and not in the sappy Lifetime network movie way. Rage, disappointment, distress, and fear are prominent in the books, and many of live's turmoils remain unfixed. Yet, the characters engage fully in life through disappointments and even death, and Haruf treats all characters with respect and attention. In many ways, the novel addresses how all of our lives are interconnected and that we are basically a close nit community. The process and part of exiting this life are honestly dealt with in the narrative, and one is deeply concerned for all of the characters (even ones who are less than gallant). A truly remarkable achievement.
Anthony Hains is a horror & speculative fiction writer.