Benediction is a pensive novel about the dailiness of life in a small town, the neighborly kindnesses as well as the regrets and missed chances that haunt its residents. At times it's more a lament than a benediction. "Dad" Lewis is the central character. He only has a few weeks left to live. Knowing this makes him treasure events and places that once seemed ordinary and unspecial. As his life draws to a close, he allows himself to revert to a childlike authenticity. He finally tells people what he really thinks of them, and he gives in to emotions we learn to suppress and deny as we grow into adulthood. He lets himself weep as he contemplates the loss of life's most basic contentments -- the rhythms of our days that seem commonplace, but become dear as the end approaches. This is not a novel you read for plot. There's not much action or conflict or conquest. I enjoyed it for the simple genius of the writing and the author's ability to excavate the human heart and mind. The approach is somewhat similar to Sherwood Anderson's [b:Winesburg Ohio|80176|Winesburg, Ohio|Sherwood Anderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1170979482s/80176.jpg|191520], although Haruf's prose is more restrained and pleasurable to read. Both books examine the secret longings and regrets of small-town folk, and the narrowing of opportunities imposed by small-town attitudes. I recommend Benediction for readers seeking the most realistic fiction you're likely to find. Kent Haruf is peerless in his ability to observe the poignancy and pathos of human experience and commit it to paper in its barest essence. NOTE: Kent Haruf does not use quotation marks in his dialogue. Usually this is something that would bother me quite a bit. However, Haruf's style is so clean and simple that it wasn't a problem for me with this particular book.