Plainsong - Kent Haruf When this novel first came out it got quite a bit of attention, and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1999. Unlike the last Western-themed novel I read, [book: An Unfinished Life], here the characters are less caricatures and more genuine – their problems are complex and their lives mirror with greater accuracy, I thought, the poor economic conditions and limited emotional expression typical of life in small Western towns. I liked that this book was honest about the prevalence of sex in places where the adults and teens are bored enough to put themselves in less than ideal situations, but where Plainsong stands out in the simple language of its population. There is where the reader finds unexpected emotional depth – something An Unfinished Life never quite achieved in its efforts to mirror all the stereotypical swagger and self-effacing humility of modern westerns but with none of the richness of inner thought that compels people to speak as plainly as the landscape of which they are a part. I expect that I'll soon head toward Haruf's sequel, Eventide. Modern westerns are one of my favorite genres.