Monday, June 1, 2015

Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf

People often say they can't put a book down.  I can.  If the dog comes to me with a ball, the book goes down. If the now adult child wants to show me something on YouTube, the books goes down.  If the husband offers a trip to Baskin Robbins, well, you can guess what comes next.

But I couldn't put down Our Souls at Night.  Granted, at 192 pages, the book is short.  But when I described it to someone today, I said it had only about 100 pages -- those extra 92 just flew by.

The story is simple.  Addie, a widow in a small Colorado town, knocks on the door of Louis, a widower who lives in the neighborhood, and she asks if he would sleep with her.  The invitation is not for sex, but for comfort.  For someone to talk to in the dark.  For a hand to hold before sleep comes.  After mulling the invitation over, Louis thinks why not?  At first he comes to her backdoor, pajamas and toothbrush hidden by a newspaper, so that neighbors won't talk.  But like the Bonnie Raitt song suggests, the two septuagenarians soon decide "Let's Give 'Em Something to Talk About" and the pair is strolling down the main street of town, arm in arm, she is a yellow sundress, and he is a wild western shirt.  Their relationship blossoms as they share sandwiches at lunch and tell each other their backstories. Complications, however, occur when Addie's young grandson comes to stay, but a couple of baseball mitts and a new rescue dog help smooth over the transition.  In beautiful language, the book celebrates the everyday and shows that simple pleasures can indeed be the best.  Like a dog with a ball, a kid with a video he want so share, a kind husband with an offer of ice-cream, a good book you can't put down.

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