Kent Haruf envisioned a spare end of life in Our Souls at Night. The book was published posthumously as a a poignant, longing, spare, and other’s thoughts matter little love story in the face of old age, loneliness, and satisfying thyself.
The story is presented in a spare, bare bones, comprised strictly of the basic or essential elements of the love story of Addie Moore and Louis Waters. The opening proposition from the small Colorado town of Holt strikes you as kind of an unconventional surprise. Specifically, lonely widower Addie invites neighbor and fellow widower Louis to sleep together, without sex, in her bed.
The notion raised isn’t one of saving souls, or finding religion to fill a soul’s need as folks face mortality with the end of life. If you want something shocking or radically unconventional on this subject with cleverness yet less subtlety, perhaps the recently reviewed Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is more your book. Our Souls at Night raises questions of decency or small-mindedness, sympathy or self-interest, the present or the past.
The moving part of Our Souls at Night is the dialogue of Louis and Addie. The two tend to push the envelope for getting to know each other. The process of giving and taking in a way that expresses hopes, fears, and curiosity while setting boundaries for the information to share or not share, was sweetly done. Addie was the braver soul in pursuing the relationship. Both were conspiratorial in putting themselves on view to the neighborhood for review and perusal. Each had pasts and a need to share.
The point was the sharing of souls at night when time with self was the most difficult. It was perhaps in this space where I most appreciated Haruf‘s spareness (or colloquialism) while conversely wanting to rebel against Huxley‘s boldness (or provocativeness). It is my sincere hope that I am in touch with my own feelings in saying that my response is to the effect of the message rather than in the style of the message’s delivery.
Matt – March 22, 2017