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Close Range: Wyoming Stories

Close Range: Wyoming Stories


Close Range: Wyoming Stories

ratings:
4/5 (26 ratings)
Length:
5 hours
Released:
May 1, 1999
ISBN:
9780743542838
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

A breathtaking collection of unabridged stories from the Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes
Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in this collection of stories about loneliness, quick violence, and the wrong kinds of love.
Close Range features 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.
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.
Released:
May 1, 1999
ISBN:
9780743542838
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Annie Proulx's books include the novel ‘The Shipping News’ and the story collection ‘Fine Just the Way It Is’. 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. She lives in Wyoming.


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What people think about Close Range

3.8
26 ratings / 27 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Great writing
  • (3/5)
    ?The country appeared as empty ground, big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, intricate sky, flocks of small birds like packs of cards thrown up in the air, and a faint track drifting toward the red-walled horizon. Graves were unmarked, fallen house timbers and corrals burned up in old campfires. Nothing much but weather and distance, the distance punctuated once in a while by ranch gates, and to the north the endless murmur and sun-flash of semis rolling along the interstate.?There's no joy, or when it does come, it's flawed and fleeting. In her stories, the characters live a miserable existence, and those who do manage to leave, return broken or dead. I thought her writing bore an outstanding sense of place. In her acknowledgements, she writes, ?In Wyoming not the least fantastic situation is the determination to make a living ranching in this tough and unforgiving place.? And that?s exactly how she?s painted every story in this collection. Both the land and its people in her stories are tough and unforgiving. If that was her goal, she did a great job with it. But such unrelenting misery did not make a good reading experience for me.
  • (5/5)
    The star of this collection is "Brokeback Mountain," and my review and rating are specific to that story.Ennis and Jack hire on as sheep tenders for the summer, and come to love one another. But they each go their own way, marrying and having children. Still, they "just can't quit you," and meet once or twice a year for "fishing" expeditions. The story covers 20 years of their relationship in spare language - so much is said by what is NOT said. A powerful story that haunts the reader long after it is finished. (The movie, with a screenplay by Larry McMurtry, is nothing short of wonderful.)
  • (3/5)
    I'm not a fan of listening to short stories, but some of these were pretty good. They show Wyoming life as it is, not as a novelist would write. I probably put this in the reading que because it's last short story is the genesis of the movie Brokeback Mountain...one that I've not seen. As you can see from the rating, I thought the book was OK, but not raving and probably won't read another by her.
  • (3/5)
    WY is the place and tales of tough life, bad turns, and human failings abound. But through all of this Annie Proulx is an amazing storyteller. Brokeback Mountain is the last short story in this book.

    A volume of short stories ... all well told ... the kind of stories of a tough frontier where people work hard, exist, and get along.
  • (5/5)
    Wyoming is the scene for 11 short stories of family and personal life, told in spare but often poetic style. In 'The half skinned steer' a rather dried-up and nasty man has emerged from his hick Wyoming background to an old age of prosperity, exercise bikes and austere diets. News of his brother's death and forthcoming funeral entices him on a trip back to the old ranch. In his ornery way, resisting his advanced years, he chooses to drive there. As a result it becomes a spiritual journey into his own childhood and his own heart. The story was inspired by an Icelandic legend. 'The mud below' tells of a short young man despised by his mother, who strains to find accomplishment and intense experience. The search is distorted by self-hatred. 'Job history' is a personal life trajectory drawing vaguely and mischievously on the form of the career curriculum vitae. It points out how often people get screwed when they take the free-market dream seriously enough to set up small businesses. 'The blood bay' is a folksy historical yarn that offers some light relief, before 'People in Hell just want a drink of water', where a damaged young man encounters Wyoming at its worst. In 'The bunchgrass end of the world' a thickset young woman temporarily goes off her rocker from loneliness and isolation, unless you prefer to see the tale as one of the author's departures from realism. 'Pair a spurs', one of my favourites, has a treasury of characters. It takes up two of the author's main themes: the growing failure of the small ranch as a business model, and the clash between stupid-yet-knowing rednecks and cashed-up, knowing-yet-stupid city folk (already well explored in her Proulx's earlier collection of about New England, Heart Songs). After that a group of ageing women, their lives rapidly burning up, work the Wyoming bar scene in 'A lonely coast'. Political and economic forces are vague at first, like the silhouettes of machinery seen through ripples of overheated air, but they come into focus in the latter part of the collection. 'The Governors of Wyoming' tells the story of the state's twisted development, as interpreted by a twisted environmentalist and his accomplice. It draws the collection together in terms of its message, but artistically was less satisfying to me than the preceding pieces. '55 miles to the gas pump' is darker again. The collection is rounded out by 'Brokeback Mountain', of film fame.
  • (3/5)
    It's not that these stories aren't beautifully written. It's just that the whole thinng is unrelentingly cruel, hard, and ugly, and while I know life can be that way, there isn't the slightest glimmer of that beauty that life hands up every once in awhile, even in brutal, poor-ass Wyoming, that keeps you wanting to stay alive a little longer. My soul feels sandpapered.
    This is the compilation that contains "Brokeback Mountain". I think that's the best story in here, but I've always found it flawed because of the pivotal scene of discovery by the wife - for FIVE years they've been going on "fishing" trips, but have never ONCE used the fishing gear?!? C'mon, you can only f**k so many times a day, & in between you're in some gorgeous fishing land. Problematic.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed some of this collection. Proulx's style, as always, takes a bit to 'work' with my brain. and yet there is a relative simplicity to Brokeback Mountain that makes it seem like a separate world from the other stories. Or at least a separate narrator.

    still, Proulx continues to fascinate me and I will probably pick up the sequel collection.
  • (4/5)
    Short stories about harsh life in the American West. Beautiful and devastating, like most of Proulx’s work.
  • (3/5)
    Close Range is a collection of short stories set in Wyoming. These stories feature very powerful prose, but there is so much bleakness, meanness, and violence that I really didn't enjoy it. These are not the soft-spoken, chivalrous cowboys that I know and admire.
  • (3/5)
    Wyoming stories about poor ranchers. Beautifully written, but 200 pages about loveless and hopeless lives, failure, poverty, cruelty etc. and the same message ("What's the point?") every time , gets a bit too much for me. My husband loved it though.
  • (4/5)
    This is a series of short stories, the last of which is "Brokeback Mountain" (I still think it's pretty impressive that they made a movie with depth from a short story). Proulx's prose is delicious. Here are a couple of my favorites: From "Pair a Spurs": "The terrain of Scope himself consisted of a big, close-cropped head, platinum-blond mustache, a ruined back from a pneumatic drill ride on the back of a sunfishing, fence-cornering, tatter-eared pinto that John Wrench, two decades earlier, had correctly bet he couldn't stay on, feet wrecked from a lifetime in tight cowboy boots, and simian arms whose wrists no shirt cuffs would ever kiss." And from "Brokeback Mountain" (actually, the last sentence of the story and the book): "There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it." There is a cruel streak running through most of Proulx's male characters and the women are victims and survivors of life (and of their men's cruelty) with not a little toughness and backbone. I think "Brokeback Mountain" is an amazing short piece. In just 30 pages, we witness Ennis (and, to a lesser degree, Jack) evolve in complicated and believable directions. A couple of the stories left me too frequently looking ahead to see how many pages I had to go until I could move on to the next one (lowering my rating), but all in all, I'd say this is a fine collection of stories about rodeo riders, cowboys, men, women, and the human desire to be both free and connected. That dual-edged desire, depicted from within the rough ethos of the rodeo culture, comes through as amazingly intact.
  • (4/5)
    I have to say I was really intrigued by "55 Miles to the Gas Pump". How I wish it was far more than 3 or 4 pages! All of the stories are never long enough though. The author slowly builds the story with the charactors and intimate details of their lives and the landscape only to end the story at the climax. I am grateful that all the stories usually have some sort of conclusion, but I really wish they were books and not short stories.
  • (4/5)
    I think this is Proulx's natural form. The gritty, rugged tales of the midwest rang true.
  • (4/5)
    Not a short story fan, but a lover of Wyoming, cowboys, and Annie Proulx's writing, picking up this book was inevitable. Proulx did not disappoint. With such well-defined characters and scenery, the author had me seeing the tales, not reading them.
  • (2/5)
    Oddly enough, the book containing Annie Proulx's masterpiece, "Brokeback Mountain," was mostly a dud. I did not finish the book. Most of the stories were uninvolving and often unconvincing.
  • (5/5)
    This is about as near a perfect short story as I have read. It feels like a prose poem where Annie Proulx has slaved over the placing of every word in order to convey rich emotion in a sparse environment. Loved it.
  • (3/5)
    In the 2006 edition I read, 'Brokeback Mountain' was the final story. It made sense of several things: why the collection had been so strongly recommended to me; why that story was chosen for adaptation into a film; and why Proulx has (subsequently) been rated highly as a North American writer. The other stories are not in the same class, not in terms of craft, certainly not in terms of poignancy.That said, there are images and sentences, passages and whole stories with undeniable power, normally thanks to their violence or otherworldliness on the one hand, or their feeling for the harshness of the Wyoming Proulx depicts on the other. 'The Half-Skinned Steer' and '55 Miles to the Gas Pump' are certainly memorable, in different ways and for different reasons. Nonetheless, as a whole, this collection is not short of cliches, and Proulx is apt to resort to the grotesque. I would recommend reading 'Brokeback Mountain' alone, and I would recommend it to anyone - as for the rest, have the discipline (and faith in a stranger on the internet you've no reason to believe!) to resist, unless you're prepared to settle for lower quality in return for quantity.
  • (4/5)
    This collection impressed and moved me. Such truly powerful writing. Bleak, windswept, violent, hard lives so foreign to my own, and yet it was impossible not to be drawn into their worlds.
  • (3/5)
    Here's the thing: I would not recommend this book. HOWEVER, the one story which redeemed Proulx for me and also made me remember why I so loved Shipping News is the story that will make me keep this collection, and which I'll go back to: "Brokeback Mountain". I haven't seen the movie, so I can't speak to those similarities or differences, but this story, for me, was the only one that truly pulled together and gave real-feeling characters. The other stories often seemed to be more along the lines of character sketches, as long as some were, and I felt as if I was watching a short movie clip instead of being involved in a story. I rarely cared, and then only for moments, and I was often bored. I had heard that "Brokeback Mountain" was the best in the collection, but I didn't believe it would stand out quite so much. This story is quite literally on a different level entirely than the other work here, in character, writing, development, plot, structure, etc. I will admit that the structure of most of these stories was a disctraction. Some authors can move between scenes often and quickly, and it works. In most of these stories, it didn't work. Sometimes confusing and sometimes jarring, many of the text breaks here were more frustrating than anything--the moment I would begin to get interested, Proulx would jumpt to yet another character. Yet, "Brokeback Mountain" reminded me why I loved Shipping News so much, so this won't be my last look at Proulx' work--but I won't go back to most of these stories. You might read one to get the effect, but I feel like once you've read one, you've very nearly gotten the feeling of most of them, in spirit and theme at least.
  • (4/5)
    I made a point, when buying my own copy of this collection of short stories, not to buy the edition advertising the film of Brokeback Mountain. This particular story had always been my least favourite of the whole, and the film just intensified these feelings - after all, a story written by a straight woman made into a film directed by a straight man with the leading roles played by two very straight actors? Now if some prominent or undiscovered members have the LGBTQ society had been commissioned for this instead...Nevertheless, Brokeback aside, this is a fantastic collection. The rough spirit of Wyoming is powerfully evoked through Ms Proulx's beautifully scattered/clipped style of writing, her little observations and the way she delves into her characters' lives, teasing out their personalities and their (all too numerous) miseries. With gems like The Half-Skinned Steer this is a must-have for every library. Just tactfully remove the last thirty or so pages and replace them with some nice Timothy Conigrave.
  • (4/5)
    This book contains the story "Brokeback Mountain". It also contains, as the first story, "The half skinned steer" that was the best short story of 1998 (Garrison Keillor) and the best short story of the century (John Updike). I haven't seen the film "Brokeback Mountain", but I doubt it's as good as the story. The story, I like.
  • (4/5)
    Some time in 1993 or 1994, I think (after the new editors took over "The New Yorker"), I sat down and started to read. After the casuals and humor piece, there appeared a story about cowboys. I stayed with it for a while based on the author's reputation, yet was ready to bail. And then it hit: the cowboys were Doing It. I was hooked. Anyway, I've read other work by Proulx since and have found her to capture the feeling and color of the American West, or at least what I know of it.
  • (2/5)
    Although widely praised (or perhaps because of that praise), I have obviously failed to grasp the value of this book.Without doubt there is value in the clipped, stoical characters that populate these stories and it is to the author's credit that they do not turn into cliches - although at times the narrative comes uneasily close to comic imitation - but the factual and unemotive tone becomes grinding. The question "but do I really care?" along with "is everyone in this place so joyless?" comes shortly after the end of each story.Strangely, the film is an almost word-for-word translation where the sombre tone becomes something much more subtle: a sense of wasted opportunity, of being out-of-place, a difficult to define form of tragedy.I often find myselves describing films as "good but not enjoyable", meaning they are well made and deserve praise but not fun to watch. I would have thought this was impossible in a book. It seems Annie Proulx has proved me wrong.
  • (4/5)
    Short story from which the movie is based. Story takes place over a 20 year period about how Jack and Ennis meet and then try to maintain their relationship. A relationship which they can't really explain, but yet can't give up.
  • (5/5)
    I normally have a hard time digesting short stories -- not enough time for character or plot development -- and consider this genre extremely difficult to write successfully. This is my first Annie Proulx, and yes, I wanted to read Brokeback Mountain before seeing the screen adaptation. While compelling, it wasn't even the standout in this collection of gritty and unprettyfied portrayals of the hard life of ranching, farming, rodeoing -- keeping body & soul together on a thin margin on harsh land.
  • (5/5)
    this book is one of the most beautifully written collection of short stories i have ever read. proulx turns an incredible array of phrases and metaphors into the stories of cowboys and bullriders, ranch-hands and lovers of the prairie from the 1800s to the present day. her deftness with language is paralleled only by her obvious love and knowledge of the land about which she writes.