The plot itself is anything but riveting. It follows random characters through their different American journeys, all ending in tragedy, death, debt, or just plain boredom. I see what Proulx is trying to say here about the American experience, but it seems to me it's been done better by others, Richard Russo being the first to come to mind.
One annoying habit (actually two annoying habits) Proulx has is one: not identifying the speaker. After two pages of "he" and "she" the reader may finally realize who the story is about. Other times, the chapter may end without any name, and utter confusion. Two: Every ten chapters or thereabouts Proulx has a "What I See" chapter, which is exactly what it sounds like. Things the characters see. This is a chance for Proulx to show off her marvelous description skills, but it can also be tedious. Especially when most of the rest of the book is description.
If you are looking to get to know Annie Proulx, this is not the book to start off on. Read "The Shipping News" or "That Old Ace in the Hole" first; both leave definite impressions and have better developed stories and characters. This book is...well, it's just THERE.read more
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