(I originally posted this review at BarnesandNoble.com.)
Kent Haruf is one of my favorite authors. His spare prose is perfect for the plain, small-town folks who people his novels, and their stories are compelling for all their simplicity.
It's giving nothing away to tell you that the main character in Benediction, Dad Lewis, is dying; he receives the diagnosis on the book's very first page. His reaction, and that of his wife and daughter, make up much of the book. But their friends' lives, and the lives of those with whom they come in contact, also come into play here. And just like anyone else, Dad Lewis has regrets, and that's a theme of the novel as well.
Benediction is an unsentimental, yet very moving, depiction of the end of a good man's life. I'd rank it right up there with Plainsong as one of Haruf's best books.