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.