Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fine Just the Way It Is

Annie Proulx is some writer, one of my favorites. I was enthralled with "Postcards" years ago before all the buzz about "The Shipping News" and "Brokeback Mountain." I'd never read anything like it and haven't since.

Just finished Proulx's third collection of short fiction set in Wyoming, "Fine Just the Way It Is." Overall, I enjoyed two thirds of the book very much but found I needed to skip reading a third of the stories. Seems even Ms. Proulx who is highly regarded for her realistic style of storytelling has ventured into the territory of magical realism. Two of the stories I skipped were about the Devil and his personal assistant. The other about a tribe of prehistoric people hunting buffalo.

There are two stories in particular that were amazing: "Them Old Cowboy Songs" and the last story "Tits-Up in a Ditch." The common thread of these stories is how damn hard life in the rural west is for both men and women, whether now or back in the time of the first settlers.

"Them Old Cowboy Songs" is the only story of the nine that has an observation by the author at its start:
There is a belief that pioneers came into the country, homesteaded, lived tough, raised a shoeless brood and founded ranch dynasties. Some did. But many more had short runs and were quickly forgotten.
I won't soon forget this haunting story or the others, especially the last story in this collection.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review; it's very helpful!

claire said...

I really liked The Shipping News, which I read just last month. It was quite unexpected because I have often thought I wouldn't like her style (because of the movie). I recently saw Postcards in the secondhand bookshop.. I might give it a go when I go back, if it's still there.. thanks! :)

Pam said...

I've enjoyed all of her books, so I'll definitely add this to my list.

Jenners said...

I've been lax and never read this author but I know I should! Thanks for the reminder! : )

sherry said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I hope if/when you pick up this book you'll come back & let us know what you think. I'd especially like to know your thoughts on the last story in the collection.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

Thanks for the recommendation. *The Shipping News* is the only Proulx book I've read (so far!). I broke my book-before-movie rule for Brokeback Mountain :)