Back to HoltThis morning I started reading Kent Haruf's Eventide which my wonderful wife gave me for Christmas. I loved Haruf's Plainsong - a charming, perfectly rendered chronicle of small town life - when I read it the year before last, and once I learned that Eventide is also set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado, with several of the same characters as the earlier book, I knew I absolutely had to read it. I'm particularly heartened by the reappearance of the McPheron brothers, the reticent bachelor farmers who were the heart of Plainsong. Haruf could tell me about those two all day long, and I'd never tire of it.
I'm generally wary of serials, wondering why authors bother to return to the same characters again and again, in book after book, but Eventide doesn't seem to quite be a sequel, as it introduces many new characters and (I assume) abandons others from the earlier book. True, it does again take place in Holt, but when an author creates a fictional setting that is as vividly realistic as this one, he'd be crazy not to revisit it. After all, nobody hammers on Sherwood Anderson for having all of the stories in Winesburg, Ohio set in the fictional town of the same name, or Faulkner for setting most of his novels in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Haruf surely deserves the same latitude.