My review of Haruf's Benediction at Full Stop:
If Benediction does seem “authentic” as a kind of slice-of-life account of the lives of people like those living in his fictional Holt County, we might nevertheless still ask whether, 150 years after its ascension, this sort of realism retains credibility as an aesthetic strategy in fiction. If we grant that Haruf employs the conventions associated with such realism very well, what do we find in a novel like this that we wouldn’t find in the fiction of those writers on whose work it is modeled? What do we find that is surprising, that takes not just realism but fiction as a literary form in a new or surprising direction?. . . .