File Size: 758 KB
Print Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Picador; Main Market Ed. edition (June 1, 2015)
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
As with his earlier novels, OUR SOULS DURING THE NIGHT is set on the plains of asian Colorado, in the town of Holt. The model for Holt probably is Yuma, Colorado, in truth it is a town like many others on the High Plains. Little and rather insular, non-urban, everyone knows everyone else's business, conservative in governmental policies and religion, a people that outsiders and especially liberal urbanites might dismiss as small-minded, but with many hard-working folk, a handful of misfits, and a surprising number of basically decent, wise, but unprepossessing souls.
Addie Moore and Louis Waters fall into that last category. Addie is seventy and it has lived in Holt for forty-four years; she has been a widow for some time. Louis, comparable age and a widower, grew up in Holt, went away to college or university and pursue a career, and then came back again forty-six years ago. Their own houses are only a prevent apart, nevertheless they had not known each other well. A single evening Addie comes up at Louis's door and asks to talk to him.
I wonder if you would consider approaching to my house sometimes to sleep with me personally.
Just what? How do you mean?
After all we're both alone. We have been by ourselves for too much time. For years. I'm unhappy. I believe you might be too. I imagine you would come and sleep in the night with me. And talk.
He stared at her, watching her, curious now, cautious.
You may say anything. Have I taken your breath away? she said.
I guess you have.
I'm not talking about sex.
No, not intercourse. I'm not looking at it that way. I think I've lost any sexual impulse a long time ago. I'm talking about getting through the evening. And lying warm in bed, companionably.
So starts a late-in-life love affair between two souls who had resigned themselves to living out the rest of these days rather unhappy. Louis maintains his house in the evenings he walks down the streets to Addie's and the next morning he strolls home again. The partnership expands, even -- after a several months -- to sex. The arrangement scandalizes some, but Louis and Addie don't care. Their own children do, nevertheless , especially Addie's son Gene. Plus there's the rub.
Because trite as it might sound, OUR SOULS AT NIGHT is a beautiful story. It is not sensational, it is not edgy, it is not cynical, nor is it freighted with irony like so much modern materials. What it is, is honest. Haruf's prose is pared-down and limpid, maybe even more so than in his earlier novels. OUR SOULS AT NIGHT can be read in a solitary evening. It you are anything like me, it will be one of your better evenings of reading., It will take a special writer to own the power to touch me personally to the core. Kent Haruf has a way of doing that. In spare, unadorned yet prominent language, he gets right to the heart of things, capturing succinctly what makes us feel most human.
This last novella-sized work, posted posthumously and written just months before his death of lung malignancy at age 71, is particularly affecting. In other hands, this narrative might have been maudlin: a septuagenarian widow, Addie Moore, reaches out to her neighbor, widower Louis Seas, with a simple ask for: to lie together in bed, companionably, and discuss in the dark toward off the loneliness. Gradually, their lives are put bare to each other - their dreams and discontentment, their hopes and accommodement, and everything that composes the tapestry of an individual life.
When Addie's young grand son, Jamie, relates to stay with Addie temporarily, heir partnership both deepens and it is examined. I'll say no more about the plot; it enfolds so naturally, beautifully and yet heartbreakingly that each reader must come to it in the or her own.
I will say this: Kent Haruf had a way of expressing what exactly is true and what is important. Addie says, "I only want to live simply and pay attention to what's taking place each day;. And come sleep with you through the night. " And at another point: "I do love this physical world. I love this physical life with you. And the air and the country. The backyard, the gravel in the rear alley. The particular grass. The cool nights. Lying during sex talking with you in the darkish. "
The only thing to say to that is a gentle "amen. " I am sad that Kent Haruf's voice is now stilled but happy that he left his readers one last magnificent gift., Addie Moore’s spouse died years ago. Therefore did Louis Waters’s better half. They reside in the same town, not far from each other, in the homes they shared with their spouses for decades. They know of each other but were never friends, just neighbors who acted friendly toward each other in transferring. Then one evening, just before dark, Addie shows upward on Louis’s porch. He or she invites her in and she constitutes a proposal to him: it’s one of the oddest he’s ever heard but he knows it. She wants him to come over to her house some evening and sleep with her. Not for sex. Regarding talk. Comfort. To sleep with someone else for a night, maybe more nights, however, not to live with him. He’s lonely too, though he’s never admitted it to himself. He really does it. Their relationship blossoms. They find they have a lot to discuss about: their dead mates, their children, how their marriages worked out (mixed good and not as good), how neither of them wound up making of their lives what they needed from them. Addie’s son drops his son Jamie off with grandma while he goes through a rough patch: his better half has left him, his business is folding, and he may go insolvent. Louis and Addie adjust to Jamie, help him grow. By then the area knows of their partnership: some approve, some seldom. Addie and Louis have discovered one of the features of growing old. They seldom have to care any more what other people think of their habits. The only opinions that depend are their own. That is liberating after a life of living so other people don’t condemn you.
Late in the publication, Addie asks Louis what he thinks of their arrangement.
I’ve gotten so I can stand it, he said. It seems normal now.
I’m trying to have some fun with you.
I know you are. Inform me the facts.
The truth is I like it. I really like it a whole lot. I’d miss it if I didn’t have it. What about you?
I really like it, she said. It may be better than I experienced hoped for. The new kind of mystery. I really like the friendship of it. I really like the time together. Getting throughout the dark of evening. The talking. Listening to you breathe next to me basically wake upward.
I like all that too.
Now talk to me. Tell me something I haven’t heard yet.
I don’t want to spoil the ending of this book. It requires a sudden twist and is not all happiness. But the overwhelming impression this publication leaves in your mind features simple friendship that moves into love, and of two old people who discover they’re still able to learn and grow.
It’s beautiful. Right now there are no verbal fireworks, no peeking inside characters’ heads. Everything is observed from the outside. It may be simple. Clean. Human. Haruf is like a benevolent grandfather who looks down on his creatures’ antics without judging them, never condemning.
(Note: Haruf was dying when he published this. His widow completed the editing. )
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