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Bad Dirt (Wyoming Stories #2)

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,416 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
Annie Proulx follows the success of 'Close Range' with this collection of short stories set in Wyoming.
Published October 1st 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 07, 2009 Spike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Annie Proulx has once again proven herself to be a literary treasure, one of very few writers who can affect a literary style without the pithy navel-gazing dreck found in nearly every lit mag in America. She actually tells stories, and they are interesting! Imagine that. The language is there: each sentence finely tuned to the story's sentiment at the moment. The characters were strong-willed and quirky. Although I liked the names, I had trouble believing so many character could have such names ...more
Sep 12, 2007 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The cover blurb on my paperback copy proclaims Proulx's work to be in the spirit of Mark Twain, and while I doubt I'd've come up with that myself, it is spot on, especially here. Proulx has a dark sense of humor which blends perfectly with the landscape she paints of the New West. Her characters are incredibly alive, flaws and all. Personal favorite in this collection: "The Trickle Down Effect" wherein the main character is hired to haul hay from Wisconsin to Wyoming, only just past the state li ...more
May 19, 2013 Bennet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-stories

The drop to three stars from the five I gave volumes one and three in this series of Wyoming stories diminishes my regard for Proulx not a bit, we all have our ups and downs. Here the writing rallied only once, or perhaps I should say rallied me only once, during the reading of Man Crawling Out of Trees. The rest was mostly OK but overall left me feeling I'd encountered her on an off day, out of sorts, or perhaps just distracted, but it happens, nobody's perfect. On now to volume three, my favor
Frederick Bingham
Short stories set in Wyoming. They mostly center around the fictional town of Elk Tooth, with three bars and no Wal-Mart.The best one of the bunch is called "The Wamsutter Wolf". It is about a guy who drifts around from job to job. He finds himself living in a trailer across from a family of true trailer trash. Eventually the husband, drunk, beats one of the kids and breaks his arm. The wife seeks the main character's trailer for refuge, but ends up going back to her useless, violent husband.One ...more
May 02, 2009 Nan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is there a style called Wyoming Gothic? If not, Proulx invented it. If so, Proulx is the master of it. The dark humor makes this an easier read than Proulx's first collection of Wyoming stories. I look forward to the next collection.
Jan 03, 2016 Ben rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One star for being somewhat readable, but there's nothing in this collection worthy of being read. The style is full of basic grammar, occasional and meaningless references and sometimes even a big word. It's boring.

The stories read like a half-edited series of character notes. This is a book that I can bet was published to fill a contract. It's like Proulx did some therapeutic writing in her back garden where consideration isn't given to the reader or to the narrative or the plot or the struct
Feb 06, 2011 Shane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful collection of short stories as good as the first one, Close Range.

Welcome to Wyoming, where the water is bad or missing and farm life is under threat, where lunch is dinner and newcomers don’t quite fit in, and where lambs are castrated with a pair of sharp teeth; where the characters are eccentric and the highest educated may be badgers (one has a university education, believe it or not!) Mercifully, one does not have to pay income taxes to live in this joint called the Emptiest St
Kat Hagedorn

I made the mistake of reading the first Wyoming Stories collection (Close Range) before seeing Brokeback Mountain, which somewhat ruined the movie for me. Here's hoping none of her other stories get made into film, because I did it again.

And I'm doubting these will-- the first collection was sweeping, lonely, grandiose, heartbreaking. Pretty much everything you think of when you think of Wyoming. The second collection has stories are spiteful (Man Crawling Out of Trees),
Andy Miller
Sep 07, 2015 Andy Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All of the short stories in this collection are set in Wyoming,but for the most part they do not celebrate the beauty of Wyoming or its people's love of the land but instead focus on hardscrabble lives on a sometimes harsh landscape. In some stories, especially the ones set in the small, isolated community of Elk Tooth Proulx's people risk becoming more caricature than character, which is not to say that there aren't good stories

'The Hellhole" was one of my favorite "Elk tooth" stories. Creel is
Jul 29, 2007 Robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a mistake to think that Ms. Proulx just writes depressing stories about tragic people in remote places: it's just those are the only stories of hers that get made into movies. Sure she's got a firm hand with sob stories, but she's also whip-smart with a tall tale and pinpoint accurate with details like characters who are such yuppies that they get married in a cow barn which the farmer rents to them for five grand.
S.L. Dixon
May 12, 2015 S.L. Dixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great time read. This small collection is smart and funny and holds dark and immensely entertaining edge.
The characters and scenery were full and realistic, ridiculously realistic. It seems Wyoming country isn't so different from Ontario country, hillbillies, drunks and farmers.
I had some favorites, as I do with books of shorts,
3. Florida Rental, although the ending had a predictable likelihood poking its head a couple pages from finish, it didn't make it any less fun.
2. Dump Junk, this was a
B. Mason
This is the third collection of Proulx's Wyoming stories I've read and while there are some real gems in here there aren't enough to warrant more stars. Like "Fine Just the Way It Is" Proulx uses a series of yarns about Elk Tooth, Wyoming to connect this collection though the yarns in this one are much better than her attempt to get into the mind of the devil in "Fine Just the Way It Is. "The Wamsutter Wolf" is about as close as Proulx gets to a real horror story, imagine being trapped in a trai ...more
Alan Baxter
Apr 09, 2016 Alan Baxter rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Some truly beautiful writing and some fantastic characters in these stories. One thing that stood out to me though - and I might be biased and making too much of this - but out of the 11 stories here, 4 are original to this collection. The others have been published in places like The New Yorker, Playboy and The Paris Review. "Serious" publications. Of the four originals, two (50%!) are heavily spec-fic/magical stories. Is Proulx secretly a genre writer trapped in "Literary" fiction? It feels li ...more
Sara Eddy
Jan 21, 2014 Sara Eddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of these are fantastic stories--funny, inventive, moving, all the best that Proulx offers. But there are a few duds. It's not quite as strong a collection as CLOSE RANGE.
Dec 29, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bad Dirt is about life in Wyoming - farms, farming, no money, squalor, hardship. Sounds boring and depressing, but it wasn't. As she does, Annie Proulx breathes life and colour and flavour into every character, every story. I found myself, at the beginning of every story, thinking "oh god, more farms and farmers and poverty. This story is going to be so bland. But each time I was wrong. Every story grabbed my attention, had me wanting more, had me disappointed when they ended. Proulx is a master ...more
Sep 04, 2015 Ash rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Her forays into magical realism largely ruined this collection. While the grandeur of the landscape is ever present, it's apparent that when focused, the land and people are hopelessly bleak in a delightfully honest manner. Appreciated main characters in one story popping up with minor roles in another. My favorite was Man Crawling Out of Trees where a recently retired New Yorker refuses to leave her house to assist a skier who has broken his leg and crawled his agonizing way to her front door b ...more
Sep 06, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this with the intention of writing a book review for a workshop in grad school, and I resisted reading it. Once I got into it, however, I fell in love with the stories. Each works together to create a picture of the West as it is experienced by outsiders who either do not understand how life works or by insiders who struggle against the confines of small town life. Annie Proulx is herself an outsider, an east coaster, who attempted to move to Wyoming to experience something like peace, I' ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Annie Proulx tickles me. I loved "Shipping News" for its mix of quirky characters, dark humor, sentiment, sheer scariness, and the impact of an isolated and starkly beautiful landscape. Much of this shows up again in her short stories set in Wyoming, where isolation and economic contingencies tend to get a strangle hold on the people who live there. The tough survive OK, but only by fierce determination and good luck, of which there is scarcely enough to go around.

The stories range from brief co
Laura Hancock
Nov 14, 2011 Laura Hancock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. A dear Utah friend, Doug, sent it to me when I moved to Wyoming. It fulfilled two needs: Entertaining short, breezy stories and insights to Wyomingites. I enjoyed "Bad Dirt" so much, in fact, I'm contemplating starting an Annie Proulx book club at my public library.
She has a hodge-podge of characters -- a couple from New York who purchased a retirement home outside Jackson, an heiress in Casper who plays polo in Sheridan, plenty of ranchers and even a story about badgers. On
Jenny Shank
Nov 25, 2010 Jenny Shank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Rocky Mountain News

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Proulx digs into eccentric West
By Jenny Shank, Special To The News
December 3, 2004

Annie Proulx writes of a West that is a touch more colorful than the one you and I inhabit. The first signs of this are the names of the characters who roam her second book of stories set in Wyoming, Bad Dirt, the follow-up to 2000's Close Range.

The men
Feb 02, 2013 Inga rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ich war einmal in Wyoming. Die National Parks Grand Teton und Yellowstone liegen ganz oder teilweise in diesem nahezu quadratischen Bundesstaat der USA. Große Weite. Viele Berge, Prärie. Büffel am Wegesrand. Soweit meine Erinnerungen.
Annie Proulx lebt seit 1995 in Wyoming, was bislang zu drei Bänden mit Kurzgeschichten über die Menschen dort geführt hat:

Close Range, 1999 („Weit draußen“)
Bad Dirt, 2004 („Hinterland“)
Fine Just the Way It Is, 2008 („Hier hat's mir schon immer gefallen“)

Bekannt w
Mr. Kovach
This book is by one of my favorite writers - Annie Proulx. She is an amazing writer. She wrote another book, called The Shipping News, that is one of my favorites. This book (Bad Dirt) is a collection is short stories about Wyoming (where she lives). It is her second collection of stories about Wyoming (the other is called Close range). I liked the first collection so I decided to read this one as well. I liked it because she writes beautifully and because it is interesting to read about a place ...more
Feb 02, 2008 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Uneven collection of short stories by one of our finest writers working in long and short fiction. Successful entertainments like “The Hellhole” and “The Contest” are matched with less successful ones like “The Old Badger Game,” along with a few more substantive stories like “The Indian War Refought,” “Man Crawling Out of Trees,” and “The Wamsutter Wolf.” The meatier stories mix people from different worlds (geographic, cultural, or social) on the same grim Wyoming landscape and hang on somethin ...more
May 22, 2009 Marielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great compilation in the true Proulx tone. Or course we are back out West, this time with Amanda Gibb, the bartender, a bickering married couple from New York, a hole that sucks up bad people, Florida Aligators, a lesbian couple with an old teakettle, and much more. One of the stories that talked to me the most, just for its outright filthy trailer park environment, was the one in which a young man is forced to move out West after his parents kick him out when their house is robbed. He ...more
Kathleen O'Nan
Dec 05, 2015 Kathleen O'Nan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've only read two earlier things by Proulx: Shipping News and the famed short story, Brokeback Mountain. Each of these is entirely different from each other in tone, mood, place and voice. And each are brilliant in their own way. The short stories here are about tough people facing tough lives in a tough environment, often with humor and grace OR with such a lack of those things as to be equally humorous. I love, love, love Proulx and look forward to reading the rest of her work.
Oct 27, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I were limited to reading the work of one author for the rest of my life, Annie Proulx would be in the running. She covers the entire range of human emotion, including ones we don't necessarily have names for. You can laugh out loud over one sentence or paragraph, then feel like you've been kicked in the gut, all in the same story I keep sticky notes handy when reading A.P. because I know I'll want to refer again to certain lines, such as:

"Take that damn thing off." And he was on her like a f
Nov 12, 2008 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I only have Brokeback Mountain to compare these stories to, as this was the only story I read in Close Range (Wyoming Stories 1). It's an incredibly powerful story, and one that totally eclipses anything in Bad Dirt. Overall, this collection was disappointing. From the reviews I've read, it's supposed to be the weakest of the three Wyoming collections. Many of the stories, set in the town of Elk Tooth, have a light, humorous, and often magical air to them -- in one, a tea kettle grants wishes wh ...more
Jan 09, 2008 Tung rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
A book of short stories from a writer I think is one of the most technically gifted writers alive. Her Pulitzer-winner Shipping News is one of my favorite books of all time, and I’ve read all but one of her books. Unfortunately, this book only reflects glimpses of her strengths. The short stories in this collection are uneven, and overall not to the level of sharpness that I am accustomed to from Annie Proulx. The writing in these stories is labored and often overdone. One story is written (I am ...more
Karolyn Sherwood
Feb 07, 2011 Karolyn Sherwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I'm on to Annie Proulx. I ain't never been to Wy-o-ming, and that's just a way she wants it. Tryin a keep the place all to herself.

I have a romantic image of Wyoming, open plains leading the way to the majestic Tetons, and of course the cowboys. But Proulx leads one to believe the cowboys are only interested in the other cowboys or the warm mammals, the wide open plains are full of wolves and snakes, and the winters are so harsh that no visitor could ever survive.

Her prose is so vivid,
Judy Vasseur
Jan 12, 2008 Judy Vasseur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Favorite character's names:
Creel Zmundzinski, Warden Orion Horncrackle, Reverend Jefford J. Pecker, A horse called Dull Knife, Plato Bucklew, Crisp Braid, Condor Figg, Wiregrass Cokendall, Apollo Wham, Pliers and Rammy, Ulysses Straw Bird, Hard Winter Ulph.

"The patrons of Pee Wee's prided themselves on their sangfroid. They stayed cool when strangers invaded the bar, but took in every nuance of outlandish behavior and speech for later discussion. No one had blinked when five Tibetan Buddhist mo
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Wyoming Stories (3 books)
  • Close Range
  • Fine Just the Way it Is

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