Close Range: Book summary and reviews of Close Range by Annie Proulx

Close Range

Wyoming Stories

By Annie Proulx

Close Range
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  • Published in USA  May 1999,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in this collection of stories about loneliness, quick violence, and wrong kinds of love. In "The Mud Below," a rodeo rider's obsession marks the deepening fissures between his family life and self-imposed isolation. In "The Half-Skinned Steer," an elderly fool drives west to the ranch he grew up on for his brother's funeral, and dies a mile from home. In "Brokeback Mountain," the difficult affair between two cowboys survives everything but the world's violent intolerance.

These are stories of desperation, hard times, and unlikely elation, set in a landscape both brutal and magnificent. Enlivened by folk tales, flights of fancy, and details of ranch and rural work, they juxtapose Wyoming's traditional character and attitudes -- confrontation of tough problems, prejudice, persistence in the face of difficulty -- with the more benign values of the new west.

In a unique collaboration that revives the tradition of the Scribner illustrated classics, Proulx has worked with the artist William Matthews, whose six watercolors create an eloquent visual dialogue.

Stories in Close Range have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and GQ. They have been selected for the O. Henry Stories 1998 and The Best American Short Stories of the Century and have won the National Magazine Award for Fiction. This is work by an author writing at the peak of her craft.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This marvelous collection proves that Proulx's Pulitzer Prize for The Shipping News was no one-shot deal. Set in Wyoming, the 11 stories 'feature down-on-their-luck ranchers, cowboys, and working men who watch helplessly as the modern world leaves them behind.'" - Library Journal

"A vigorous second collection from Proulx (after Heart Songs and Other Stories, 1988): eleven nicely varied stories set in the roughhewn wasteland that one narrator calls a 97,000-square-miles dog's breakfast of outside exploiters, Republican ranchers and scenery." - Kirkus

"Ms. Proulx writes with all the brutal beauty of one of her Wyoming snowstorms. Her people not only 'stand' the bad luck and heartbreak that comes their way; they stare it down with astonishing strength, and sometimes they manage to triumph." - The Wall Street Journal

"This is splendid material, set out with pain and compassion but above all with a shrewdness of observation..." - The New York Times Book Review

"Why should you read these stories, then, if their characters' lives are so mean and their fates so inevitable? You read them for their absolute authenticity, the sense they convey that you are beyond fact or fiction in a world that could not be any other way. And you read them for their language, not lyrical but a wry poetry of loneliness and pain." - The New York Times

"With her second set of stories, Close Range, Proulx trains her gaze on the state where she now lives: Wyoming. The results are magnificent, but unlikely to elate the region's tourist board." - The Times

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Author Information

Annie Proulx Author Biography

Photo: Gus Powell

Edna Annie Proulx was born in Norwich, Connecticut, to parents of French-Canadian ancestry. She graduated from Deering High School in Portland, Maine, then attended Colby College "for a short period in the 1950s." She later returned to school, studying at the University of Vermont from 1966 to 1969, and graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1969. She got her Master of Arts from Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) in Montreal, Quebec in 1973 and pursued, but did not complete, her Ph.D. Starting as a journalist, her first published work of fiction is thought to be "The Customs Lounge," a science fiction story published in the September 1963 issue of If, under the byline "E.A. Proulx."...

... Full Biography

Name Pronunciation
Annie Proulx: Proo

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