Review: Our Souls at Night

Our Souls at Night
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Our Souls at Night
By Kent Haruf

Reviewed by Jay Gilbertson

This novel is barely 180 pages long. You can read it in one swoop. But don’t. Relish it. Take slow, easy bites; sit alone and be with author Haruf’s words. They’re gems. Each one selected as carefully as one gets dressed for church or a party or a funeral. I had the pleasure of listening to a talk by local author Nickolas Butler and he had this book in his hands as he took the podium. That was enough validation to read this for me. Need more? Haruf is the author of Benediction, Eventide, Plainsong, The Tie That Binds and Where you Once Belonged.
Not only is the story totally and completely compelling, it is, but the writing. Well, here, have a chew on this;
“That’s sort of like marriage, isn’t it.”
“What is?”
“Cold Feet.”
“It can be.”
“Yes. Well, I’m just going to say it.”
“I’m listening,” Louis said.
“I wonder if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me.” “What? How do you mean?”
“I mean we’re both alone. We’ve been by ourselves for too long. For years. I’m lonely. I think you might be too. I wonder if you would come and sleep in the night with me. And talk.”
There. That’s what the entire tale is built around. That question. Think about it. All the elderly that are shuffling through big, empty houses on streets like yours and mine. Maybe you know someone like Addie Moore or Louis Waters. We all do. They sit alone in movie theaters and are put in the back, if they even go, of restaurants. You see them at the mall walking in circles. Usually an older woman, but there are a lot of men out there too. Makes you wonder.
And of course author Haruf takes it many steps further, this request to sleep together has ramifications. First, one of Addie’s kids has a boy that needs taking care of. A messy relationship isn’t panning out. The boy comes to live with Addie for a while. Add in gossip from nosey neighbors and you have a storm brewing out of, what you first imagined to be no one’s business but two old people trying not to be so alone. Yet, for a while, they find each other.
“You’re being too hard on yourself again. Addie said. Who does ever get what they want? It doesn’t seem to happen to many of us if any at all. It’s always two people bumping against each other blindly, acting out of old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings. Except I still say that this isn’t true of you and me. Not right now. Not today.”
There is a hitch, of course. I’m not going to spoil it for you because I know you’re going to read this. It should be on every book club’s list as this is a subject that is going to get more and more discussion as all the Baby Boomers out there find themselves in a very similar situation as Addie and Louis. What will you do?

• Email; jay@jaygilbertson.com

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