Paul's Corner: Remembering Peter Matthiessen, Ivan Doig, and Kent Haruf

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American fiction lost three of its finest practitioners in 2015 and the end of 2014;  Peter Matthiessen, Ivan Doig and Kent Haruf all passed away within that time. Each published an exquisite novel upon leaving our planet, as a gift to readers.  Mattheissen finished In Paradise, his only book to confront the Holocaust, which came out on the day he died. The great Ivan Doig wrote what I believe to be his finest novel, The Last Bus to Wisdom, a lovely tale of a kid, an old man, and a journey that might remind you of Huckleberry Finn or simply of Ivan Doig at his very best. Pulitzer Prize Winner, Kent Haruf, concluded his series of novels set in Eastern Colorado with Our Souls at Night, a beautiful, poignant tale of an older widowed pair who take up with each other at the end of their lives.

On Last Bus to Wisdom:

“The chimerical tale is moving, vivid and funny… Doig's adolescent narrator recalls his literary cousins, Scout Finch, Augie March, Huck Finn, Claudia MacTeer, as his open-hearted curiosity provides readers a sense of unmediated engagement with an expanding world…Last Bus to Wisdom takes us back 65 years to an era when the West was a little more rugged and the ethos of wide, open spaces allowed for mythical endings.” -Chicago Tribune

On In Paradise:

“Matthiessen can write with ecstatic beauty… In his new novel, In Paradise, he takes what may be his deepest look yet into the abyss…Profound and fiercely fresh.” --Tampa Bay Times

On Our Souls at Night:

“Blunt, textured, and dryly humorous. . . this quietly elegiac novel caps a fine, late-blooming and tenacious writing career. . . . Haruf’s gift is to make hay of the unexpected, and it feels like a mercy. . . . This is a novel for just after sunset on a summer’s eve, when the sky is still light and there is much to see, if you are looking.” —Wingate Packard, The Seattle Times