Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2

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Thorndike, 2005 - Fiction - 341 pages
8 Reviews
The stories in Annie Proulx's new collection are peopled by characters who struggle with circumstances beyond their control in a kind of rural noir half-light. Trouble comes at them from unexpected angles, and they will themselves through it, hardheaded and resourceful. Bound by the land and by custom, they inhabit worlds that are often isolated, dangerous, and in Proulx's bold prose, stunningly vivid.

In "What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?" rancher Gilbert Wolfscale, alienated from his sons, bewildered by his criminal ex-wife, gets shoved down his throat the fact that the old-style ranch life has gone. Several stories concern the eccentric denizens of Elk Tooth, a tiny hamlet where life revolves around three bars. Elk Toothers enter beard-growing contests, scrape together a living hauling hay, catch poachers in unorthodox ways. "Man Crawling out of Trees" is about urban newcomers from the east and their discovery, too late, that one of them has violated the deepest ethics of the place. Above all, these stories are about the compelling lives of rapidly disappearing rural Americans.

Through Proulx's knowledge of the history of Wyoming and the west, her interest in landscape and place, and her sympathy for the sheer will it takes to survive, we see the seared heart of the tough people who live in the emptiest state. Proulx, winner of the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and many other prizes, has written a collection of spectacularly satisfying stories.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Notesmusings - LibraryThing

Bad Dirt is the second volume of Wyoming Stories. For me it did not reach the same heights as Close Range. In Bad Dirt there are more departures from realism and more use of the folksy yarn, less of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TCWriter - LibraryThing

Annie Proulx writes so sharply that she defines her characters with what feels like a razor's edge. This isn't a collection of happy stories about a West that never existed; it's a collection of taut essays about a hardscrabble life. Excellent writing, if not always the easiest stuff to read. Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Edna Annie Proulx was born in Norwich, Connecticut on August 22, 1935. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1969 and earned an M. A. from Sir George Williams University in Montreal in 1973. She was a journalist, wrote nonfiction articles for numerous publications, and was the author of several "how-to" books before beginning to write fiction in her 50s. She became the first woman to win the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, for her debut novel Postcards. Her novel The Shipping News won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award in 1994. Accordion Crimes, published in 1996, won the Dos Passos Prize for literature. She also won the O. Henry prize for the year's best short story twice; in 1998 for Brokeback Mountain and in 1999 for The Mud Below. She has written more than 50 articles and stories for periodicals and edited Best American Short Stories of 1997.

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