YUMA, COLORADO — Award-winning novelist Kent Haruf came here today, at the behest of a solitary reporter, to endorse Colorado’s senior senator, Mark Udall, for reelection.
All three novels in Haruf’s trilogy, Plainsong, Eventide, and Benediction, are set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. In sparse, austere, yet vibrant prose, Haruf evokes the lives of ordinary people in a small town in Eastern Colorado. Holt is based on Yuma, where Haruf lived in the 1980s. Udall's opponent, Cory Gardner, grew up (to the extent that he did grow up — a matter of some considerable debate among political progressives) in Yuma. The population of Yuma is 3,524.
Haruf won the Wallace Stegner Award iWilln 2012. Named after famed Western author Wallace Stegner, the Wallace Stegner Award is presented annually by the Center of the American West “to those who have faithfully and evocatively depicted the spirit of the American West.” In the words of Ursula Le Guin, reviewing Benediction, Haruf has “an unblinking eye for hypocrisy.”
Introduced by the solitary reporter to an eager crowd of Udall campaign volunteers and Yuma residents, Haruf said, “I’ve never known of a politician as hypocritical as Congressman Gardner. He’s always saying one thing and doing another. He is among the ten most conservative members of the House of Representatives. He says he’s now against the Personhood Amendment, which would criminalize abortion, but he is a sponsor of legislation pending in Congress which would do the same thing. Having initially supported the Personhood Amendment, he’s now in favor of making contraceptives available over-the-counter.”
“In my book,” Haruf continued, “Gardner should immediately withdraw from the race, come back home to Yuma, and run for mayor, but when he does, I will support whoever runs against him."
After Haruf convinced all Republican voters in Yuma to vote for Udall, the senior senator’s army of volunteers, consisting of more than 10,000 eager folks, young and old, marched the 142 miles from Yuma to the eastern suburbs of Denver, to knock on doors of unaffiliated voters in a desperate attempt to put Udall over the top.