Thursday, January 04, 2007

This is my third blog for 2007 January 4

Because the story" Brokeback Mountain" was made into a movie and a mutitude of jokes about cowboys, a reader might think they know something about the author, Annie Proulx. Don't believe that. Annie Proulx is a writer of rare, almost breathtaking talent. She won the Pulitizer Prize for her novel,"The Shipping News" and is recognized for her extremely original prose.

Having read "The Shipping News" not just once but twice, I did not warm up to Ms. Proulx . I started reading her short story collection, "Close Range, Wyoming Stories," with a critical approach. Now I am a convert who wants to help you appreciate her ability.

It is true that "Brokeback Mountain" is the last short story of this collection and I liked it very much, but the other stories she tells with such vivid lannguage and imaginative style are even better. She won a prize for the first story in this book, "The Half Skinned Steer." To me it was only a beginning; my favorite was "The Mud Below." I kept asking myself how she could know the world of rodeo so clearly with its pain and grittiness and brief moments of extreme excitement and pleasure? How could she know about the long drives and boredom and companions in that small club of rodeo riders? I don't know how she knew, but every sentence rings with truth.

Ms. Proulx also knows Wyoming well. The harsh reality of ranch life with the wind, the damn wind and the goddam wind, plus drought or too much rain and not enough profit; she portrays it all with an almost magic sense of living the characters and their relationship to an arid and unforgiving land. Those of us who live in the treeless and little rain West can only say "Well done!"

As a reader I strongly recommend "Close Range." The marvelous prose in this collection of short stories should not be missed.


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