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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This marvelous collection proves that Proulx's Pulitzer Prize for The Shipping News was no one-shot deal. Set in Wyoming, the 11 stories "feature down-on-their-luck ranchers, cowboys, and working men who watch helplessly as the modern world leaves them behind." (LJ 5/1/99)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this collection. I loved AP's writing style and wanted to be drawn into the stories. Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2004 by Angela Linton
After carefully anylising Proulx character development and precise diction it seems to me that the whether the characters depicted by Proulx capture the spirit of Wyoming is... Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2003 by Becky Raney
Brothers Grimm dealt in folklore, myth and truth using language that confronted, that did not hide, say, an act of cannibalism, and revealed in their stories some of our fears,... Read morePublished on Aug. 14 2003 by Ian Muldoon
It is hard to imagine these stories being printed if the author hadn't won a Pulitzer Prize for earlier work. Read morePublished on May 29 2003 by Cinnamon Girl
The first thing I'm going to say is that I only read half this book. If you wish, you can take that as a commentary on the book, or a commentary on the reviewer. Read morePublished on May 12 2003 by Norm Zurawski
This sordid, dark, ugly filth is not the Wyoming my grandparents hailed from. I have known many persons from ranches in that state and they are hard working, forthright and... Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2002 by Kyddyl
Ever since she allowed a happy ending to ruin things in The Shipping News, Annie Proulx has made life miserable for every character she's drawn. Read morePublished on March 9 2002 by Philip Levy
I write and publish short stories and I teach writing.
This is one of the best collections of short stories I have ever read. Read more