Read Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx Free Online
Book Title: Close Range: Wyoming Stories|
The author of the book: Annie Proulx
Date of issue: November 1st 1999
ISBN 13: 9780684867267
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 31.97 MB
Edition: Scribner Book Company
Read full description of the books Close Range: Wyoming Stories:"It was her voice that drew you in... she could make you smell the smoke from an unlit fire."
That refers to a character in one of the stories, but is just as applicable to Proulx herself.
This is a collection of short stories of Wyoming ranchers, including Brokeback Mountain. It's a harsh environment and a harsh life: men and women alike have to be tough. "Wyos are touchers, hot blooded and quick, and physically yearning. Maybe it's because they spend so much time handling livestock".
There are few sympathetic characters, alleviated by dashes of dry humour. The stories generally focus more on the men, some of whom are very dodgy (including rape), although their behaviour is largely glossed over or condoned within their community. The visceral power of the elements and environment runs through all the stories, and the use of dialect and slightly clipped sentences is another similarity.
The Half-Skinned Steer
This is an old man's road trip to his brother's funeral, prompting reminiscence. There is a parallel story with a more mystical aspect.
He thinks of women like stock (as do many in the other stories), "What he wanted to know... was if Rollo had got the girlfriend away from the old man, thrown a saddle over her and ridden off into the sunset" and "she had long grey-streaked braids, Rollo could use them for reins." Not necessarily what one expects from a contemporary female writer, but I expect it's an accurate portrayal.
The Mud Below
Diamond Felts is an unpleasant and very small man (only 5' 3"), who is thrilled by his first bull ride, "dark lightning in his gut, a feeling of blazing real existence". He hits the road, performing in shows, and picking up (and dropping) women as he goes. One is described as "a half-hour painkiller but without the rush and thrill he got from a bull ride." He had a traumatic childhood, but that doesn't excuse the man he becomes.
Does what it says on the tin, as the Ronseal adverts used to say. This is a catalogue of blue-collar jobs in places with strange names: Unique, Poison Spider Road, Tongue River, Thermopolis, and Medicine Bow. I was amused that a man who came from Unique "travels all over the continent... he says every place is the same".
The Blood Bay
A very short story of amoral (or immoral?) opportunists - with a twist.
People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water
A haunting story two families, how the past can echo down the generations, culminating in an awful encounter. (view spoiler)[The woman kills one of her children, not entirely intentionally, and years later, another is physically and mentally impaired in a car accident. (hide spoiler)]
The Bunchgrass Edge of the World
This has a fairytale aspect (view spoiler)[(a talking tractor?) (hide spoiler)], but is ultimately about a power struggle within a family, and the role of women.
Pair a Spurs
For some reason, this story just didn't grab me, and I can't work out why, as it's not hugely different from the others.
A Lonely Coast
It's about middle aged (well, early 40s) single women (who might be labelled trailer trash), on the pull. It starts with a parallel between a burning house and difficult relationships. I didn't initially realise it was narrated by a woman, and when I did, I didn't realise which one!
The Governors of Wyoming
A poetic, long short story (with chapter headings). I liked the telling more than the story itself, which concerns some eco warriors and leaves the reader to ponder whether ends justify the means.
55 Miles to the Gas Pump
A very short story of a small-town crazy.
I knew this exquisite story well from the film, and the two are very similar.
It is a story of unexpected and irresistible passion, longing and loss - understated and never graphic.
Jack and Ennis meet, lust and love one summer, and meet up over the years, despite starting more conventional families. "The brilliant charge of their infrequent couplings was darkened by the sense of time flying, never enough time, never enough." But the '60s (and even '70s) weren't as swingin' as we're led to believe, certainly in their communities, so "nothing ended, nothing begun, nothing resolved". In the interim, "What J remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand was... the silent embrace satisfying some shared and sexless hunger."
It happens to concern homosexual love between cowboys, starting in the 1960s, but it could just as easily be any taboo relationship.
The harsh beauty of the mountains, coupled with love and longing, reminded me a little of Cold Mountain, which I reviewed HERE.
The clipped but run-on sentences are not as extreme as is sometimes the case in The Shipping News, (which I reviewed HERE), but they are naturalistic and colloquial. For example, "The horse drank and J dismounted, scraped icy water up in his hand, crystalline drops falling from his fingers, hi mouth and chin glistening wet." They also include representations of dialect, such as "ornery" and using "a" for "of" (as in the title, Pair a Spurs).
The main power comes in descriptions of the landscape (see quotes, below), but there are some quirkier offerings. For example, a radio announcer "who pronounced his own name as though he had discovered a diamond in his nostril": what on earth does that mean, and why does it work?
Men in Wyoming often have strange names, apparently, including (but not limited to): Ideal, Pet, Bliss, Diamond, Pearl, Mero, Rasmussen, Shy, Aladdin (though there was at least a reason for that), Car, Train, Pleasant, Elk, Zeeks and Fount!
Quotes (mainly about the Wyoming landscape)
* "The full moon rose, an absurd visage balanced in his rear-view mirror, above it curled a wig of cloud, filamented edges like platinum hairs."
* "The country poured open on each side... landforms shaped true to the past."
* "There was muscle in the wind... a great pulsing artery of the jet-stream swooping down... The snow snakes writhing across the asphalt."
* "With the lapping subtlety of the incoming tide the shape of the ranch began to gather in his mind."
* "He traveled against curdled sky... The light was falling out of the day."
* "He didn't have anything against X except that he was a humorless fascist who picked his nose and left pliant knobs of snot on the steering wheel"!
* "A murderer she might be but no one could say her house wasn't clean"!
* "The afternoon light was the same color of lemon juice."
* Something was "her fault through the osmosis of guilt".
* "The smile lay over his face as if it had been screwed on."
* "You can stand there, braced. Cloud shadows race over the buff rock stacks as projected film, casting a queasy, mottled ground rash. The air hisses... grassy plain everlasting, tumbled stones like fallen cities, the flaring roll of sky - provokes a spiritual shudder. It is like a deep note that cannot be heard but is felt, it is lie a claw in the gut."
* "He had a rancher's expectation of disaster."
* "Scrotal circumference is damn important" - not a phrase I have ever read before!
* She "was dissolving. It was too far to anything... She had eaten from a plateful of misery."
* "Simian arms whose wrists no shirt cuffs would ever kiss."
* "You don't leave [Wyoming] until you have to."
* A returner "maybe suffering some perverse need for animosity which he did find here."
* Middle aged women, "both of them burning at a slower rate than J, but in their own desperate ways also disintegrating into drifts of ash."
* "Clean arcs divided the windshield into a diptych, and their faces flared through the glass."
* "Metronomic shadows of telephone poles."
* "the point in reminiscence where their lives had diverged and superficial accounts rather than shared intimacies were the most that could be expected."
* Of eco warriors: "together they did harm where W said it would do most good."
* Papaya are "womb-shaped fruits with their middles full of seeds."
* "A wash of shame, an intention to do it again."
* "The sky showed a scraped nakedness, hard, and with a stain along the south western horizon from the Utah refineries."
* "This business with WW... served him as the balance column in the ledger of his own evil doings."
* He "lets a panel of the dream slide forward. If he does not force his attention on it, it might stoke the day."
* "The mountain boiled with demonic energy, glazed with flickering broken cloud-light."
* "Their bedroom was full of the smell of old blood and milk and baby shit, and the sounds were of squalling and sucking... all reassuring of fecundity and life's continuance to one who worked with livestock."
* "They stayed in the little apartment which he favored because it could be left at any time."
* "A slow corrosion worked between E and A, no real trouble, just widening water."
* "The boneless blue [sky] was so deep, said J, that he might drown looking up."
* "at the top of a steep stair that had its own climbing rhythm."
Read information about the authorAlso published as E. Annie Proulx
Edna Annie Proulx is an American journalist and author. Her second novel, The Shipping News (1993), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for fiction in 1994. Her short story "Brokeback Mountain" was adapted as an Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning major motion picture released in 2005. Brokeback Mountain received massive critical acclaim and went on to be nominated for a leading eight Academy Awards, winning three of them. (However, the movie did not win Best Picture, a situation with which Proulx made public her disappointment.) She won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her first novel, Postcards. She has written most of her stories and books simply as Annie Proulx, but has also used the names E. Annie Proulx and E.A. Proulx.
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