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Before she wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx was already producing some of the finest short fiction in the country. Here are her collected stories, including two new works never before anthologized.
These stories reverberate with rural tradition, the rites of nature, and the rituals of small-town life. The country is blue-collar New England; the characters are native families and the dispossessed working class, whose heritage is challenged by the neorural bourgeoisie from the city; and the themes are as elemental as the landscape: revenge, malice, greed, passion. Told with skill and profundity and crafted by a master storyteller, these are lean, tough tales of an extraordinary place and its people.
Published: Scribner on Dec 1, 2007
ISBN: 9781416588900
List price: $12.99
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Excellent collection of short stories by one of the very best short story writers, set in a rural community where poor country folk struggle to eke out a living. Tough, gritty stories with a deep-rooted connection to the land that give full play to the author's gift for capturing rugged, rural landscape in all its moods. Hunting and fishing provides an unusual backdrop for some of the human dramas played out: revenge, ill-will, greed, infidelity, passion and jealously, violence and death are all strong presences in these stringent stories so don't be misled by the tame hunting and fishing reference. Annie Proulx creates a cast of vivid characters - eccentric, downtrodden, down and out, malicious and conniving - bringing them alive in the space of a striking image or phrase. A strong theme threading through several stories is the clash of values of two very different worlds: the world of wealthy outsiders from the city who come with their soft hands and soft bellies sporting their flash hunting gear and brand new boots -their rifles new and shiny, just like their cars - bringlng unwelcome improvements impinging on the land, customs and traditions of the poor rural community. My personal favourite of the collection is Stone City: a hunter stumbles on a remote, derelict farm high up on the snow-covered wooded hillsides but senses an atmosphere of evil pervading the abandoned ruin, Stone City, once owned by the Stone family, old man Stone and his brood of wild, unruly offspring. Gradually, more shocking revelations about the Stones and the grim past of Stone City come to light. Try also Annie Proulx's other superb short story collection of Wyoming stories, Close Range. Both books highly recommended!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Perhaps most famous these days for her short story (adapted into a movie) “Brokeback Mountain,” Annie Proulx has plumbed the depths of the American Great Plains in her collections of Wyoming stories. But before she wrote about the prairie, Proulx set many of her tales in rural New England.In “Heart Songs and Other Stories,” a collection published in 1995, Proulx explores both the traditions of these backwoods areas and families, and also the myriad ways in which the modern world is intruding and changing traditional ways. In writing about rural areas, a sense of romanticism is often evident, but not here. Proulx’s writing is clear-eyed and unsentimental about the people and places she is describing, while her language manages to be both lyrical and vivid. She is at her strongest when relating the details of the quotidian. The stories, like the people in them, simmer with emotions deep below the surface, but are outwardly reserved and undemonstrative. Standouts include the title story, “Stone City,” and “Negatives.”read more
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Reviews

Excellent collection of short stories by one of the very best short story writers, set in a rural community where poor country folk struggle to eke out a living. Tough, gritty stories with a deep-rooted connection to the land that give full play to the author's gift for capturing rugged, rural landscape in all its moods. Hunting and fishing provides an unusual backdrop for some of the human dramas played out: revenge, ill-will, greed, infidelity, passion and jealously, violence and death are all strong presences in these stringent stories so don't be misled by the tame hunting and fishing reference. Annie Proulx creates a cast of vivid characters - eccentric, downtrodden, down and out, malicious and conniving - bringing them alive in the space of a striking image or phrase. A strong theme threading through several stories is the clash of values of two very different worlds: the world of wealthy outsiders from the city who come with their soft hands and soft bellies sporting their flash hunting gear and brand new boots -their rifles new and shiny, just like their cars - bringlng unwelcome improvements impinging on the land, customs and traditions of the poor rural community. My personal favourite of the collection is Stone City: a hunter stumbles on a remote, derelict farm high up on the snow-covered wooded hillsides but senses an atmosphere of evil pervading the abandoned ruin, Stone City, once owned by the Stone family, old man Stone and his brood of wild, unruly offspring. Gradually, more shocking revelations about the Stones and the grim past of Stone City come to light. Try also Annie Proulx's other superb short story collection of Wyoming stories, Close Range. Both books highly recommended!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Perhaps most famous these days for her short story (adapted into a movie) “Brokeback Mountain,” Annie Proulx has plumbed the depths of the American Great Plains in her collections of Wyoming stories. But before she wrote about the prairie, Proulx set many of her tales in rural New England.In “Heart Songs and Other Stories,” a collection published in 1995, Proulx explores both the traditions of these backwoods areas and families, and also the myriad ways in which the modern world is intruding and changing traditional ways. In writing about rural areas, a sense of romanticism is often evident, but not here. Proulx’s writing is clear-eyed and unsentimental about the people and places she is describing, while her language manages to be both lyrical and vivid. She is at her strongest when relating the details of the quotidian. The stories, like the people in them, simmer with emotions deep below the surface, but are outwardly reserved and undemonstrative. Standouts include the title story, “Stone City,” and “Negatives.”
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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