Bad Dirt : Wyoming Stories 2 by Annie Proulx
The stories within Annie Proulx’s latest collection are populated by characters who grapple with circumstances beyond their control in a rural noir ambiance. Trouble comes at them unexpectedly, but they confront it with determination and resourcefulness. Bound by both land and tradition, these characters inhabit isolated, perilous worlds that are rendered stunningly vivid through Proulx’s bold prose.
In one story, “What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?,” rancher Gilbert Wolfscale finds himself alienated from his sons and bewildered by his criminal ex-wife, only to realize that the old-style ranch life has faded away. Other stories delve into the lives of the eccentric residents of Elk Tooth, a small hamlet where everything revolves around three bars. Elk Toothers engage in beard-growing contests, scrape together a living by hauling hay, and catch poachers through unconventional means. Meanwhile, “Man Crawling out of Trees” depicts the ill-fated experiences of newcomers from the east who violate the deepest ethics of their newfound community.
Above all, these stories shed light on the captivating lives of rapidly vanishing rural Americans. Proulx deftly incorporates her knowledge of Wyoming’s history and the western landscape, along with her empathy for the formidable will to survive, allowing readers to glimpse into the hardened hearts of the individuals who inhabit the emptiest state. As an esteemed writer who has been honored with the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and numerous other accolades, Proulx has woven together a collection of stories that is truly gratifying.
Annie Proulx on America’s Changing Landscape – The John Adams Institute: An In-Depth Look at Wyoming’s Rural Communities, Stories of Change and Loss
I’ve been asked to introduce Annie Proulx, but how necessary is it? The 350 people here didn’t come to this meeting because of a rider with an interesting French name or because they’re fans of Annie Proulx’s latest book. So why is Annie Proulx so popular in Holland? It’s not because her books resemble the kind that get sold here. She does not write the generational family novels or autobiographical novels that are typically popular in the Netherlands. She writes non-confessional novels about families that are not considered “normal” in Dutch literature. Her books are not popular because of her vivid descriptions of nature, which is not a strong interest for Dutch readers. It is not because of her Western touch either. Other Western writers like Cormac McCarthy are not as popular in Holland. So why is she so popular then?
First of all, Annie Proulx is a great storyteller. She has an inexhaustible treasure of storytelling filled with dozens of different stories in her books. She has an expressive style and uses unforgettable metaphors in all of her stories. She also depicts a fascinating world of rugged workers, little criminals, and psychopaths. But ultimately, as Annie Proulx herself said, “perhaps people like me because I’m like the unknown ingredient on the plate of antipasto – strange but spicy”.
Very briefly, Annie Proulx was born in Connecticut in 1935 and has had a successful career as both a journalist and a writer. Her debut novel, “Postcards,” won the Pen/Faulkner Award and her novel “The Shipping News” won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. She currently lives in Wyoming.
Annie Proulx’s popularity in Holland is due to her great storytelling abilities, expressive style, and her ability to depict a fascinating and different world. She is a unique and spicy ingredient in the literary scene.