On Kent Haruf's "Benediction," Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" and the Colorado Fires, Again

So this post should be a candidate for some kind of parlor game like “Try to pinpoint the logical connection (though there may not be one)”: I finished Kent Haruf’s Benediction, which includes a scare at the end (I won’t give it away), and my final judgement is that it’s a touching, somber novel, and I wanted it to be longer. That’s rare with me. Especially when I review books, I usually favor short ones. But there’s a trend in publishing (and the world) that I everything has to be short and punchy. “Tight” is the word editors usually use. And sometimes that’s good. But sometimes it steals part of the show. It can take away some charm. Which is all on my mind because . . . .
I’m now reading the puzzling, insufferable, and magnificent The Brothers Karamazov (1880), the last novel by that moody genius Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I love that name). Reading Karamazov, you never think about an editor. I’m sure he had one. I know enough about his life that he sometimes wrote for money, in a hurry, and would dash off a book to pay off gambling debts. But Karamazov has the feel of a man who is telling a story and not trying to make it “tight” or “luminous.” It’s a book with its own moods, at once brilliant, long-winded, sloppy, and transcendant.
Meanwhile I’m working on a new novel, which puts me in a mood. Let’s call it Untitled Writing Project #9. If I can follow in the footsteps of Haruf and Dostoyevsky, I’ll be tickled pink. It features a boy who disappears during a raging wildfire. And wouldn’t you know it, we have them again in my home turf of southern Colorado.  There’s one only about 20-30 miles from my home, but the most worrisome one is in Colorado Springs, about an hour and a half away. (For the news story, see here.) At the moment over 350 homes have burned down, and this is after the horrible fires there last summer. It’s hot and dry, and locals in these here parts know that the weather is hotter and dryer than ever. So of course Climate Change is exacerbating the fires. We can expect it to continue every summer indefinitely into the future. Yes, the West has always had fires, blah blah blah. But they are worse than ever, and it seems each new summer sets some new record of devastation. So I write about it, natch. I bet Fyodor would, too. Here’s a page of his notes for The Brothers Karamazov. I think it’s cool, and illustrates his sloppy brilliance.

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