Annie Proulx Close Range : Wyoming Stories

ISBN 13: 9780684852225

Close Range : Wyoming Stories

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9780684852225: Close Range : Wyoming Stories

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes comes one of the most celebrated short story collections of our time.

Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in these breathtaking tales of loneliness, quick violence, and the wrong kinds of love. Each of the stunning portraits in Close Range reveals characters fiercely wrought with precision and grace.

These are stories of desperation and unlikely elation, set in a landscape both stark and magnificent -- by an author writing at the peak of her craft.

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Review:

With the very first sentence of the first story in this remarkable collection, Annie Proulx demonstrates what makes her great: images sharp as paper cuts conveyed in language so imaginative and compressed it's just this side of poetry; a sense of character so specific it takes only a sentence to establish a whole life; and the underlying promise of something utterly unexpected waiting just up ahead.

In the long unfurling of his life, from tight-wound kid hustler in a wool suit riding the train out of Cheyenne to geriatric limper in this spooled-out year, Mero had kicked down thoughts of the place where he began, a so-called ranch on strange ground at the south hinge of the Big Horns.
"The Half-Skinned Steer" chronicles elderly Mero Corn's journey back to Wyoming for his brother's funeral. As he drives west, details of his eventful trip are interspersed with recollections of his youth on the ranch--most notably a tall tale he heard told long ago about a sad-sack rancher named Tin Head and a butchered steer. This is vintage Proulx, a combination of isolated landscapes, macabre events, and damaged people that adds up, in the end, to a near-perfect story. It's no surprise that "The Half-Skinned Steer" made it into John Updike's Best American Short Stories of the Century.

Proulx achieves similar results with many of the other stories in Close Range, including another prizewinner, "Brokeback Mountain," the bittersweet story of doomed love between two cowboys who "can't hardly be decent together," yet know "if we do that in the wrong place we'll be dead." But Proulx is careful to add some leavening to the mix. In "The Blood Bay" she indulges her taste for the gruesome with a morbidly amusing retelling of an Old West shaggy-dog story, while "Pair a Spurs" is the sad-funny rendering of divorce, Wyoming style. The author is a true original in every sense of the word, and her evocation of the West is as singular and surprising as that of Cormac McCarthy or Ivan Doig. Close Range is Proulx at her best. --Alix Wilber

Review:

Pulitzer Prize-winner E. Annie Proulx forays through the underside of America's beloved Wild West in Close Range, a collection of stories about hardship and more hardship in Wyoming territory. Understanding that the West's infinite spaces tended to inspire neither introspection nor contemplation, but a violent and insatiable restlessness, Proulx's eight stories are dark reflections on the lives of a handful of characters striving to define themselves against the unforgiving landscapes. The three professional actors chosen to read the text give strong, resounding interpretations of the macabre tales. (Running time: 6 hours, 4 cassettes) --Natasha Senjanovich

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