Eventide is the limited and uncertain brightness soon after the moments of the sunset, when the sky changes its color in different ways and everything around is enveloped by a soft light vanishing the borders .
Eventide is an unadorned and plain time, similar to the characters of the second novel of the Plainsong trilogy by Kent Haruf.
Another little jewel of this writer where everyday life becomes poetry, without adornments or masks.
The writer digs up to the fundamental structure of life; the scenery is the American town of Holt, forty miles from Denver in the plains of Colorado.
Holt is a small and beautiful provincial society, but it hides loneliness and desperation.
It is an imaginary town that embodies other real towns where people live their existence in silence but they know how to enjoy little things too.
The reader is often received in a dining room, in a bed room or in the open country, always dry, brown and grey.
The air is cold and the wind blow outside and birdsong drifts up from the trees.
Here we meet again the stories of the characters of the first novel that interweave with the new characters of Eventide.
The McPheron brothers are an old acquaintance.
Living with his brother seventeen miles out south of Holt, Raymond had been alone since that day when they were teenage boys and they’d learned that their parents had been killed in the Chevrolet truck out on the oiled road east of Phillips. But they had been alone together, and they had done all the work there was to do and eaten and talked and thought out things together, and at night they had gone up to bed at the same hour and in the mornings had risen at the same time and gone out once more to the day’s work, each one ever in the presence of the other, almost as if they were a long-suited married couple, or as though they were a pair of twins that could never be separated because who knew what might happen if they were. Then when they had become old men, after a series of peculiar circumstances had transpired, the pregnant teenaged girl Victoria Roubideaux had come out to the house to live with them, and her coming had changed matters for them forever. And then in the spring of the following year she had delivered the little girl and her arrival had changed matters once again. So they had grown used to the presence of these new people in their lives. They had become accustomed to the way things had changed and they had got so they liked these new changes and got so they wanted them to continue day after day in the same way. Then the girl had finished high school and had gone off to Fort Collins to attend college, and they had missed her, missed her and her little daughter both terribly, because after they were gone it was as if they were suffering the sudden absence of something as elemental and essential as the air itself. But they could still talk to the girl on the telephone and look forward to her return at holidays and again at the start of summer, and in any case they still had each other.
Now Harold, his brother, is buried in the Holt County cemetery northeast of town next to the plot where their parents lay.
And in Holt County Raymond is completely alone in the old gray house in the country. There was no one left for him to talk to. He misses the girl as soon as she was gone. He misses his brother. It is as if he didn’t know where to look or what to think about. Every day he wears himself out working and he comes in at night exhausted, too tired to cook anything, so he warms up food out of cans.
But one day his friend Guthrie, the professor, says to Raymond: you ought to get out of the country now and again. Come into town, have a beer or something. You’re going to get too lonesome out here.
And in town Raymond meets Rose Tyler.
Rose Tyler works for Holt County Social Services.
She takes care of people who need help. She has a caseload and try to help these people sort out their lives. She distributes food stamps and see that her clients get medical treatment.
She has seen so much trouble in Holt County, all of it accumulating and lodging in her heart. She has never been able to numb herself to any of it. She has wanted to, but she has not succeeded.
Among her clients there are Luther e Betty Wallace and their little children; they live at the margins of the society and Luther e Betty are unable to take care of their children, but also of themselves.
They can't protect them from the violence of Betty's uncle, so the children have been taken into emergency custody.
The parents should be granted regular visitations with the children under the supervision of Social Services, and the case should be reviewed at some future time and date.
Betty has another daughter, who lives in another family and also this girl, who is a teen ager, is living borderline.
We meet other children in this story, like DJ Kephart, a small boy underweight for his age.
He is active and responsible, and too serious for a boy of eleven. Before he was born his mother decided not to marry the man who was his father, and when he was five she died in a car wreck in Brush Colorado on a Saturday night after she’d been out dancing with a redheaded man in a highway tavern. She had never said who his father was. Since her death he had lived alone with his mother’s father on the north side of Holt, in a dark little house
At school he is in the fifth grade and he is a good student but speaks only when called on; he never volunteered anything in the classroom, and when he is let out of school each day he goes home by himself or wanders around town or occasionally does yard work for the woman who lived up the street.
His grandfather, Walter Kephart, is a white-haired man of seventy-five.
DJ Kephart takes care of the old man, walking him home along the dark streets in the night when his grandfather is finished talking at the tavern, and at home he does most of the cooking and cleaning.
DJ Kephart becomes friend with other two young girls, Dena and Emma.
They are the daughters of Mary Wells, a woman just past thirty. Her husband works in Alaska and returnes home infrequently and they don't have a good relation ship. She feels bad and alone, so she often sits in her bedroom on the unmade bed, smoking cigarettes and drinking gin from a coffee cup, staring blankly out the window at the winter lawn and the dark leafless trees along the back alley.
In those days, DJ and Dena go to their shed at the back alley every afternoon and sit at the table across from each other in the little dark room and lit the candles. They eat their snacks of crackers and cheese and drink cold coffee and talked.
They look like an old couple but they also represent the beginning of a new life for everybody, Emma and Dena's mother including.
And soon now the streetlamps would come on, flickering and shuddering, to illuminate all the corners of Holt.
And farther away, outside of town, out on the high plains, there would be the blue yardlights shining from the tall poles at all the isolated farms and ranches in all the flat treeless country, and presently the wind would come up, blowing across the open spaces, traveling without obstruction across the wide fields of winter wheat and across the ancient native pastures and the graveled county roads, carrying with it a pale dust as the dark approached and the nighttime gathered round.
And still in the room they sat together quietly, the old man with his arm around this kind woman, waiting for what would come.
La vita in un piccolo paese del Colorado: classico western, ma senza indiani, pistoleri, saloon.
Conosceremo una quarantina di persone, tra le quali una decina di protagonisti e gli altri comparse. Ogni capitolo una vicenda di uno dei protagonisti: tutte le vicende si intrecciano, come devono essere in un piccolo paese.
Per dire del tono di questo libro, non trovo di meglio che usare alcune parole tratte dalla Nota finale del traduttore Fabio Cremonesi.
...la luminosa fiducia di Kent Haruf nel genere umano....le numerose relazioni narrrate nel romanzo sono fatte di accudimento reciproco e di tenerezza....in questo romanzo c'è vita, moltissima vita, storie che si intrecciano, fatti che accadono, situazioni drammatiche, ma anche comiche...
Infine una mia considerazione da vecchio cinefilo: il protagonista mi ricorda tanto Henry Fonda in Sfida Infernale. Chi l'ha visto?
Che siccome a Plainsong ho messo quattro stelle, e questo Eventide mi è piaciuto ancora di più, e mi ha emozionato e commosso ancora di più (e ormai, arrivata a una certa, i libri che mi emozionano sono rarissimi e quindi più che mai preziosi) o ne tolgo una al primo - e non mi sembra giusto - oppure mi tocca dargli l'en plein, mi tocca....Continua