Postcards: A Novel Paperback – Apr 27 1993
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
"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.
Most recent customer reviews
I loved The Shipping News, & so looked forward to another book by Ms. Proulx. She's a wonderful writer, but her characters in this book led such miserable lives. Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2013 by Francine
this book just didn't do it for me. I haven't read Shipping News yet, and wasn't going to after reading this book. Read morePublished on June 22 2004 by Tonya Speelman
Annie Proulx' vivid prose took my breath away. She has an amazing ability with words--metaphors, similes--every sentence an artist's delight. Read morePublished on Dec 6 2002 by B. D'Angelo
Proulx is like Faulkner for me... I know they are both brilliant writers, but I don't really get them. Read morePublished on April 22 2002 by Catherine
Rarely do I put a book down without finishing it, but this was one. Proulx's The Shipping News is one of my all-time favorite books, thanks to her remarkable gift for vocabulary... Read morePublished on March 12 2002
I highly recommend this novel as an engaging read. This ranks just below "Shipping News" among the E. Annie Proulx novels I have read. Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2001 by Arthur Gershman
Introduced to Annie Proulx from her book _Shipping News_, I eagerly snatched this book up with the same expectations and I was delivered of that and more. Read morePublished on May 15 2001 by jmh