By the Book @ Rogers Memorial Library

Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf

Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf“Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we’d still have something like this.  That it turns out we’re not finished with changes and excitements.  And not all dried up in body and spirit.”

Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf, tells the bittersweet story of two elderly neighbors who live in a small Colorado town.  It’s been years since Addie Moore and Louis Waters lost their spouses.  Yet Addie still dreads the lonely nights that she endures, so she asks Louis whether he would consider coming over to talk (and sleep) with her in the evenings.  Because what she’s really yearning for at this stage in her life is companionship — that mysterious process of getting to know someone, and of being known.  It’s a simple request, but it also feels revolutionary.  When Louis takes Addie up on her offer, word of their arrangement spreads around town and the two experience a backlash from judgmental neighbors and family.  Despite this, a quiet intimacy develops between them, as they share the stories of their lives each night.  The sudden appearance of a troubled grandson brings them closer together, even as it threatens to permanently dismantle their new and tenuous relationship.

Our Souls at Night reads like a poem whispered in the dark.  Haruf’s prose is spare and eloquent.  It reminded me just how much I loved his widely acclaimed novel, Plainsong, which was also set in Holt, Colorado, and focused on a different set of plainspoken characters — and how sad I am that Haruf passed away in November, 2014.  This deceptively slim but powerful book makes a fitting coda to his literary work.


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