"Read this book! Andget yourself a man to lie in the bed beside you!"
The May meeting of the Eason Book Club on The Pat Kenny Show saw Mary O’Rourke, Brian Kennedy, and Katherine Lynch all return to the Newstalk studios in Dublin to pore over another novel. Or novella, as was the case, with the group talking about the final novel of the late award-winning writer Kent Haruf, Our Souls at Night. And it seems like the book set their souls alight.
The book tells the story of Addie Moore and Louis Walter, neighbours for years in the fictional Colorado town of Holt, a frequent setting of Haruf’s pared-back prose. Having lost their spouses, the widowed neighbours spend their nights feeling the full weight of loneliness during long evenings of solitude. At least until one day when Addie knocks on Louis’ door and invites him to spend the night sharing her bed, feeling the warmth of human comfort beside her.
“And they lay there in the bed, holding hands, telling their back stories, and it was gorgeous,” said former Fianna Fáil politician Mary O’Rourke, who adored the book.
“But I would really say to people if you want to be uplifted, not that it’s holy at all, but if you want to have your spirit uplifted, if you want to feel good about the world, if you want to go out smiling, read this book,” she said, adding “And get yourself a man to lie in the bed.”
Mary’s love for Hanuf’s plain writing was one share by all the Eason Book Club members, with Katherine Lynch raving about the writer’s magnificent understanding of the splendour of simplicity.
“It’s very beautiful, it’s very sparse, it’s just fantastic,” Katherine told Pat. “There isn’t any untruth in it. It’s really hard writing to write, it nearly would have to be your last novel because every single line in it is the truth. Very ordinary truth. There was no room for any glamour.”
Musician Brian Kennedy also raved about the book, revealing he’d read the whole thing in one sitting the day before.
“If this book was a song, it would be called Songs of Innocence and Experience. There’s this beautiful moment when, clearly these characters have had a whole lifetime’s experiences, but there they are, sort of like children again.”
Joining this month’s book club was Triona Cussen, who has been a member of a book club based in Donabate, in northern Dublin. Made up of a number of school friends with a shared love of reading, their group meets every three weeks to talk about what they’ve just finished over a cup of tea and plenty of chocolate.
With regard to Our Souls at Night, Triona said all of the club members loved the book, and that it was a very moving mediation on what it means to get older.
“The stark reminder for me was I’m in a home that’s so busy,” Triona said on the phone, “I’ve three teenage boys, a four-year-old, a dog and a cat. And at times, I feel like I’m going crazy with the noise, but it was a stark reminder that one day these very walls one day will grow silent. It’s a privilege to grow old, but inevitably what comes with that is the loss of your family and friends.
“It was heartbreaking. It was beautiful. We thoroughly enjoyed the book.”
June’s Eason Book Club will take place on the last day of the month, Thursday the 30th. Mary O’Rourke now has the weekend to make her selection for the meeting out of the following four titles: Nothing on Earth by Conor O’Callaghan, Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon, The Museum of You by Carys Bray, and Louise McSharry’s Fat Chance.
Tune into The Pat Kenny Show next week to hear which of the books Mary O’Rourke selects, and please listen back to the full podcast of today’s segment below: