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Postcards: A Novel Paperback – Apr 27 1993

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Paperback, Apr 27 1993
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Collier Paperbacks,U.S. (April 27 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020811853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020811855
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.7 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,488,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Reproduced as graphics that preface narrative sections, the postcards in this novel -- communications between the Blood family and their son Loyal, as well as other personal mail and advertising material -- progressively reveal the insecurity of the rural Bloods in the changing post-war world. Loyal has fled into exile after an accidental killing, but cannot find a haven of rest. The family patriarch, Mink, writes vitriolic letters to local agricultural agents when the real object of his ire is his absent son. Loyal's brother sends off for an artificial arm to replace the one he lost in an accident; his sister answers a mail order ad for a husband. Through the mail, Proulx inventively reveals the inchoate longings of a difficult existence in this winner of the 1993 PEN/Faulkner Award. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In this poignant first novel by Proulx ( Heart Songs and Other Stories ), artfully misspelled postcards form the tenuous links between ill-fated young trapper Loyal Blood and his family--Mink and Jewelle, Dub and Mernelle--who eke a meager existence from their ancestral Vermont farm. When Loyal accidentally kills his saucy redheaded sweetheart Billy while making love in the fields, he hides her body in a stone-covered fox den. Abruptly he tells his family that he and Billy are heading west to "make a new start." In a vengeful rage his father Mink shoots Loyal's cows. Loyal endures harsh years of self-imposed exile as, from 1944 to the '80s, he roves from job to job--mining, fossil picking, trapping--each authoritatively detailed. Racked with gagging seizures whenever he tries to touch another woman, sick in his lungs, Loyal doggedly accepts his lot without complaint. Back home the violent, feckless Bloods fall into ruin, attempting arson, serving jail terms and losing the farm, which is sold for trailer parks. Flurries of postcards fly, both personal and commercial: brother Dub answers one for an artificial limb, desperate sister Mernelle responds to a lonely lumberman's ad for a wife. Proulx writes a rich, sensuous prose; she captures the earthy, hard-bitten voices of men and women resigned to travail and documents the passing of an epoch. If there is a fault, it is the overabundance of minor characters randomly introduced into the narrative.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matt on Sept. 15 2002
Format: Paperback
Postcards was the first of many books that I actually finished. I have tried to read many "good recommendation" books and never quite finished them, due to a lack of interest. What drew me to complete postcards was Proulx style of writing and prose. It was very interesting although I found I had to re-read many parts of the book, just part of my short attention span I guess. The downfalls of the book was character confusion, by the time I got halfway through the book I was confused about the characters in the Blood family, and of the ownership of traits. The most dreadful of all is the unanswered anticipation that was built up in the first page of the book, I felt let down and angered that I had put the time to finish the book and never had my questions answered. By the time I was three quarters through the book I realized that this was to be. I wanted to throw the book into a busy intersection, but refrained due to the fact it wasn't my book. It was lent to me by a friend who hadn't read it yet. Oddly enough I plan on reading it again to get my characters right, and I will check out "The Shipping News". Maybe this is the best compliment I can give the author, I hated the story but I loved the style. Very vivid.
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By Gary Sprandel on April 23 2004
Format: Paperback
Annie Proulx's first novel uses the vehicle of postcards, often from the main character Loyal Blood, to introduce most chapters. What is striking about the cards is there is never a return address, with Loyal cutting himself off from contact from his family, but still wanting to let them know his whereabouts (with a rack of stolen bear postcards). I was hoping for some return, or public discovery of the event that precipitated Loyals exodus. The descriptions of mining and archeology in the west were perhaps the best, but the writing of the farm in Vermont did not reveal as strong feeling of place. The writing in sometimes very lyrical for example ".. her own house showed up as a slatternly lean of paintless clapboards, the porch slipping away like melting butterscotch". The vignettes almost read more like loosely connected short stories, than a novel. The male characters seem most developed, with the women offering less. Readers of this may enjoy Robert Olen Butler's upcoming book " Had a Good Time : Stories from American Postcards " which has fictional short stories focused around an actual postcard
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Format: Paperback
After reading this novel, I still have no idea how I feel about it. I know that I wanted to like it, having adored "The Shipping News" and liking "That Old Ace in the Hole" rather well. But the only thing I feel about this book is ambivalence. Not good, not bad...just nothing.
The plot itself is anything but riveting. It follows random characters through their different American journeys, all ending in tragedy, death, debt, or just plain boredom. I see what Proulx is trying to say here about the American experience, but it seems to me it's been done better by others, Richard Russo being the first to come to mind.
One annoying habit (actually two annoying habits) Proulx has is one: not identifying the speaker. After two pages of "he" and "she" the reader may finally realize who the story is about. Other times, the chapter may end without any name, and utter confusion. Two: Every ten chapters or thereabouts Proulx has a "What I See" chapter, which is exactly what it sounds like. Things the characters see. This is a chance for Proulx to show off her marvelous description skills, but it can also be tedious. Especially when most of the rest of the book is description.
If you are looking to get to know Annie Proulx, this is not the book to start off on. Read "The Shipping News" or "That Old Ace in the Hole" first; both leave definite impressions and have better developed stories and characters. This book is...well, it's just THERE.
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Format: Paperback
I finished reading this book several days ago, yet it is still resonating with me. Proulx tells several stories in this novel, but the story line I found most compelling was that of Loyal, the son who is forced to leave the family farm because of an accidental killing. Loyal is resourceful and quite gifted--as he wanders he is able to eke out a living as a trapper, a farmer, an archeologist, etc. But he is also sentenced to a solitary, nomadic life because of personal circumstances and shortcomings.
I am personally drawn to stories that involve themes of lonleliness, wandering, and hardscrabble living. Proulx tells Loyal's story, which involves all these themes, with great skill.
This novel does not build into a climatic ending as much as it seems to *unravel* (in a very good way!) to an emotional ending. I highly recommend this wonderful piece of literature. But if you like your stories with happy endings, and with all the various threads tied up neatly at the end, you might look elsewhere.
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By Jeni P on March 17 2002
Format: Paperback
While "Postcards" is as beautifully written and original as "The Shipping News," it's a depressing read. Instead of the passionate, moving sadness of tragedy, the story is a slow, steady grinding of one catastrophe after another.
"Postcards" presents the reader with an endless string of murder, sickness, injury, theft, suicide...By the end of the book I was hardly moved by any of it. A few moments of hope and human kindness would have made the losses seem more profound. Without it, the violence and pain ended up seeming merely pointless.
The book has its redeeming qualities from a technical standpoint. Proulx manages to carry off the postcards concept (each chapter starts with a reproduction of a postcard message that adds some information to the story) without it becoming gimmicky. The story is interesting in the way that watching a car crash might be interesting - you wonder what else could possibly happen to these people. And her writing style and subjects are as quirky and finely drawn as ever.
But ultimately I found I couldn't care about the characters' lows when there were no highs to measure them against, and instead of a plot the book was simply a litany of sorrows.
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