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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  3,510 ratings  ·  238 reviews
The story of Loyal Blood, a man who spends a lifetime on the run from a crime so terrible that it renders him forever incapable of touching a woman. The odyssey begins on a freezing Vermont hillside in 1944 and propels Blood across the American West.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Fourth Estate (GB) (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

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Why have so few of my GR friends reviewed this brilliant book by such a well-known author? Note: The first two pages have a rather brutal scene (though the details are vague), but there's nothing else like that in the rest of the book, and everything that follows, arises from this incident.

This is Proulx's first novel, published a year before the excellent The Shipping News. It's equally good, but has a very different structure, and the language is not as distinctively clipped or telegraphic.

Paul Bryant
It's like every sentence you have to hack out of the rockface, it takes forever to read the thing, it's like some kind of titanic struggle you have with it, but when you finally do finish the damn thing you feel like you've been through some kind of... experience. Not sure I need another going over by E Annie Proulx, but this one was memorable.

The author : "Say my name!"
PB : "Ooof, E Annie!"
Pow, kick, bash.
The author : "Say my name!"
PB : "Cough - I already said it - E Annie Proulx! E ANNIE PROUL
Proulx is fucking brilliant. The first book I read by her was Shipping News and I was blown away at how she, like ee cummings used punctuation or the lack thereof to make words hang like actual things.

I think Postcards was her first book but that she couldn't get it published until Shipping News was out and did so well. I think she wrote it in college. This makes it even more startling to me.

Postcards is raw and rough and very male. But this woman can write men, particularly men from the heartl
Judy Vasseur
"Don't come out my farm no more with your damn insemnation racket. We got rid the Holstins. Guess we stick with god local Jersey stock. Do it the old fashion way with a BULL.
—Minkton M. Blood"
It’s a rich, dark, often humorous, in ways painful, epic escapade.

Annie Proulx has her characters experience all kinds of biblical catastrophes. Stuck in a mine explosion with cold water up to the knees so that the feet swell up and eventually the soles of the feet come off when the boots are removed follo
Brucus Scriptus
Annie Proulx. 2009. Postcards. London: Fourth Estate-HarperCollins. 7.99/$12: 340 pages.

Finished 6 September 2011. In a recent email to my brother John, I wrote, ‘Am reading Annie Proulx' book Postcards. Just when ya think things can't get worse, they do. Strangely reassuring, that woman's writing is.’

At least one knows what to expect. Postcards is every bit as awful, full of violence and regret as Proulx’ lovely The Shipping News. So why does her writing inspire us? Why does it so faithfully d
Margo Solod
if anyone had told me that i could open a book that began with a rape and murder and by the end of the book actually empathise with the male character, i'd have called them nuts. but i did.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
On the front of my copy is a quote from a review by Frederick Busch of the Chicago Tribune: "A rich, dark and brilliant feast of a book." Perfect description. In the first few pages I felt this would go on my fictitious top ten list. Annie Proulx is an extraordinarily gifted author. Postcards was her debut.

The postcards at the beginning of each chapter give us information from outside the story we might not get anywhere else. They give us a timeframe for the setting of each chapter, or perhaps s
A hard book--not difficult to read, but the characters are hardened, their lives unforgiving, the land stark and mean. Bones jut up out of the soil and rock of this book, suddenly exposed and horrifying.

Proulx contrasts well against Kingsolver, who is all life, growth and healing, while in this book Proulx draws the living dead. Farmers who have lost everything, including limbs. A young man driven from home by guilt that wracks his entire life. Forty years of wandering the West without love or
Wow! I have to give this book 5 stars. Proulx's writing was amazing and engaging, despite the story being about as bleak as possible. Any romantic notions one might have had about rural Vermont living are pretty much ripped to shreds by this story. It follows multiple characters across 40+ years, watching the lives and farm of the Blood family unfold (or implode, depending upon how you look at it.) The oldest son is forced to leave home under circumstances that are never really explained- we kno ...more
Mar 12, 2008 Autumn added it
I'm not sure if I'm enjoying this book or not - it's so bleak and the characters all seem doomed to a horrible end - and are certainly experiencing pretty terrible middles. Nonetheless, it's really well written and my endless optimism leaves me hoping that something amazing will happen for the characters.
Annie Proulx can write, she is a genius with description. The problem lies in the depressive nature of the story and in the assumption that we will understand her obfuscation about Billy's death and the nature of what is wrong with Loyal. She describes but doesn't explain. I realized that I would never see resolution nor gain understanding. I think that the incident with Billy was rape and murder, I think it may not have been the only time. But these are not laid out as clear truths, we don't kn ...more
I thought I had a great idea. I saw this on my bookshelf and assumed it was one of those "slice of Americana" books which would put me in the holiday mood.


Holiday mood? How about Deliverance meets Looking for Mr. Goodbar, with a side of rural Pulp Fiction?

I purchased this book a few months back after falling hard for Proulx's brilliant The Shipping News. I have not changed my mind about Annie Proulx's writing, but this novel was a horror to read.

Every part of this world (presumably our wo
Sara Steger
I do not think that Proulx's choice of a name for her lead character is one lightly arrived upon. His name is Loyal Blood and his first act at the opening of this novel is to draw blood from a girl who he rapes and murders. This is done almost off-stage and while the act itself shapes Loyal and the rest of his life, this is not the story of a murder or a murderer. With such an opening, it is almost impossible to believe that you could develop a feeling of empathy for Loyal, but you do. Proulx kn ...more
Another great, tragic Proulx novel. She hits the nail on the head with human weaknesses and really tells it like it is. This is what I love about her writing--it's beautiful but very harsh at the same time.
The more of Proulx I read, the more of Proulx I want to read. In this book she frames the passage of time and place through postcards sent to and from the characters in the novel. The protagonist, Loyal Blood, careens through life trying to flee from or reconcile a youthful evil deed. When we meet the man, he is a laconic youngster, wary and skeptical. We watch him evolve, into and out of relationships, into and out of professions, and finally from silent to loquacious as his sharp mind begins t ...more
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The story of a rural family and the struggles they go through: 1940s - 1980s.

There's a lot going on here.

The oldest son flees the family farm in an attempt to cover up a murder... or maybe an accidental death? It's never really made clear what exactly happened with his girlfriend. Most would probably conclude that he committed was rape/murder in a crime of passion, but there doesn't seem to be much motivation for that. My own conclusion was that it was accidental. But in the end, it doesn't ma
I found this book to be deeply moving. It is the poignant tale of a farm lad, Loyal, from a poor family in a harsh environment. He is involved in the death of his girlfriend. Believing that he would never receive a fair hearing if the matter went to court, he flees his home and leaves no forwarding address. At irregular intervals over many decades, Loyal sends home a postcard to let his family know he is OK. Annie Proulx uses the postcards as a literary device to mark intervals in the man's life ...more
Claire S
“His loneliness was not innocent.”

Proulx loads up meaning into her fewest possible words - like the chocolate chip cookies they load into a cup at the Sweet Martha’s booth in the Minnesota State Fair, so high you have to put your hand on top or you’ll lose some as you walk away - so once used to that, you get in the habit of quickly knowing all that is suggested.

But, in this book, some suggestions are left even more than that to the reader to fill in, like the one I started this review with. One

I am entirely not sure what to make of this book. First and foremost I admire and applaud the author for thinking so far outside the box. I despise novels that tie everything up into a tidy (but absolutely impossible) bow by the end of the book. This one leaves many loose threads, but a thoughtful reader will have enough to make the stories coherent. The characters in this novel grow, learn, and adapt but always stay on pitch. Perhaps the greatest joy in this read is the breadth of place, time
I have read two other of her novels and enjoy her reading and telling of ordinary peoples struggle in a not so forgiving world. This book was darker than the prior books I read. It covered many characters lives but centered around the Blood family and in particular, Loyal Blood. Ironically, he was loyal to nothing but to be unloyal to everyone and everything.
It was a sad book. No one did well in the end. All died sad and lonely. Family ties were not strong but merely occurred due to births, marr
After finishing The Shipping News I knew I had to read another Annie Proulx book. The protagonist of this story, Loyal Blood, is quite different from Quoyle, the protagonist of The Shipping News. But both of their stories are kick started by the death of a loved one. Loyal accidentally kills his girlfriend, buries her and takes off from his family's pre-electric WWII era dairy farm in Vermont. Early in his adventure he comes upon a stack of postcards which he uses over the course of his life to ...more
Unless you know that Proulx had been writing for years by the time Postcards was published, it's hard to believe this is a first novel. Everything in it works, from the language to the narrative to the character development to the ethos. From a purely technical point of view, it's a wonder and a joy to read. The story itself is dark and depressing, yet somehow also hopeful. The Blood family seems stricken by the curse of Job, yet many of them manage to find small joys and pleasures along the way ...more
My favourite of Proulx's books and I've read it twice. Elegiac, occasionally comical, poetic...both times I swam through the prose hoping somehow for a happy ending. Loyal is one of the most pitiful, admirable and inarticulate characters ever conceived, I wanted to pluck him out of the book and nurture him like a wingless bird. Proulx's depiction of American landscapes, nature and humanity is breathtaking.
Ok, wow..... A whole life .... I feel I lived a whole life, in a changing world. Lives go on in a different way over time, changing (evolving) but the world changes too fast for people to catch on, they are thrown off the wheel or cling desperately... Some near the center easily... There are so many people out there like Loyal.. Not murderers, but wanderers, leaving a place, building new lives, lost to time.
Emily Mellow
This was a good book, and I kind of feel bad for ditching it halfway through, but the story was just losing me. Maybe in a different year I would be able to stick with it, but it seemed to be dragging on, jumping around between characters and through time and space. I got bored, didn't care anymore. Could've been good! It started out so interesting, with the murder and farm life and all. But nope.
Patricia DeVerna
Where is the lesson? That bad luck dogs the guilty, who remain unredeemed forever, and that no one can be fulfilled or happy? Is there no joy to be found anywhere in the human condition? This book makes perseverance an undesirable trait punishable by terminal frustration, and could be entitled "Stories of Rage and Other Sublimated Emotions". Powerfully written, which elicits such a disturbing reaction.
Katrina Bergherm
Yuck. I really didn't like the author's writing style. It was often hard to follow the story line because only vague connections were made and there didn't seem to be a point to the whole book. I skimmed alot of it, hoping to find something interesting, but bah....mostly a waste of time.
Susan Andersen
So far, I'm sucked in deep to this often dark and graphic look at the lives of the Blood family. This narrative of the members of a Vermont farming family, set in the late years of the Second World War and the decades after, follows the family through death, life, war, and a grasping onto the mechanisms that see them through. Although Proulx's best characters are the men -- Loyal, Dub, Mink; her deft handling of Jewell and Mernelle, and even Billy (whose death opens the novel) is brilliant. I'm ...more
I got this book from my Book of the Month club..."a story of the Blood family, New England farmers who must confront the twentieth century--and their own extinction."

This is really not a feel-good book, at all. It's main theme seems to be hopelessness. Pretty tough stuff.
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Also published as E. Annie Proulx
Edna Annie Proulx is an American journalist and author. Her second novel, The Shipping News (1993), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for fiction in 1994. Her short story "Brokeback Mountain" was adapted as an Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning major motion picture released in 2005. Brokeback Mountain received massive c
More about Annie Proulx...
The Shipping News Brokeback Mountain Close Range Accordion Crimes That Old Ace In The Hole

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“The windows of his house shone in the darkness like squares of melting butter.” 6 likes
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