Synopses & Reviews
Returning to the territory of "Brokeback Mountain" (in her first volume of Wyoming Stories) and "Bad Dirt" (her second), National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx delivers a stunning and visceral new collection. In Fine Just the Way It Is
, she has expanded the limits of the form. Her stories about multiple generations of Americans struggling through life in the West are a ferocious, dazzling panorama of American folly and fate.
"Every ranch...had lost a boy," thinks Dakotah Hicks as she drives through "the hammered red landscape" of Wyoming, "boys smiling, sure in their risks, healthy, tipped out of the current of life by liquor and acceleration, rodeo smashups, bad horses, deep irrigation ditches, high trestles, tractor rollovers and 'unloaded' guns. Her boy, too....The trip along this road was a roll call of grief."
Proulx's characters try to climb out of poverty and desperation but get cut down as if the land itself wanted their blood. Deeply sympathetic to the men and women fighting to survive in this harsh place, Proulx turns their lives into fiction with the power of myth — and leaves the reader in awe. The winner of two O. Henry Prizes, Annie Proulx has been anthologized in nearly every major collection of great American stories. Her bold, inimitable language, her exhilarating eye for detail and her dark sense of humor make this a profoundly compelling collection.
"The steely Proulx (The Shipping News, etc.) returns with another astonishing series of hardscrabble lives lived in the sparse, inhospitable West, where one mistake can put you on a long-winding trail to disaster. 'Family Man' is set in the Mellowhorn Home for old cowboys and aging ranch widows, where resident curmudgeon Ray Forkenbrock shares memories of his father with his granddaughter and an eavesdropping caretaker; the secret he reveals gives new meaning to the word 'relative.' In two demonically clever riffs on human weakness, 'I've Always Loved This Place' and 'Swamp Mischief,' the Devil, accompanied by his secretary, Duane Fork, must entertain himself thinking up new ways to bother the living and the dead, as temptation is no longer a necessary evil. Saving the best for last, 'Tits-up in a Ditch' breaks new literary ground with the gut-wrenching tale of an Iraq veteran who returns to her family raw with grief. Pioneer homesteaders facing drought and debt give way to modern-day hippies trying to lose themselves in the vanishing wilderness and real estate developers out to make a buck unforgettable characters in nine stories that range in tone from crude cowboy humor to heartbreaking American tragedy. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]akes giant steps in advocating Proulx as simply one of the most inventive yet, at the same time, traditional story writers working today....[These stories] are timeless in their depicted tragedies." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[H]arrowing, sometimes darkly funny....We rarely get the chance to read about people like this in contemporary fiction...and [Proulx's] tales of their largely unexamined lives are rich, unsentimental, and affecting. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly
"Prepare to be surprised, disturbed, and uncomfortably amused by Proulx's attention to detail and her unflinching descriptions of life's inherent cruelties. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"[A]fter a decade of mining the same rugged landscape, Proulx's fiction seems to have succumbed to the law of diminishing returns. Her prose remains as prickly as ever, but some of her stories verge on folk tales and tall tales with stock figures." Kirkus Reviews
"All of her usual tendencies are in this new collection...but they are blended more naturally. The range in tone, character and time is wider but every story feels whole and apt." The Portland Oregonian
"[R]eaffirms that no one writes better about tough people in tough places....In the hands of a lesser writer, Dakotah's sad tale could be predictable melodrama. Here, it's memorable drama that can be read on several levels." USA Today
"Many of the stories in Fine Just the Way It Is are breathtaking in their cool depiction of the hardships of that life and the astonishing amount of stubborn resolve it takes to survive it — or just try to." St. Petersburg Times
Returning to the territory of "Brokeback Mountain," National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner Proulx has written a stunning and visceral collection of new stories.
About the Author
is the author of eight books, including the novel The Shipping News
and the story collection Close Range
. Her many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner award. Her story “Brokeback Mountain,” which originally appeared in The New Yorker
, was made into an Academy Award-winning film. Her most recent book is Fine Just the Way It Is
. She lives in Wyoming