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Bad Dirt (Wyoming Stories #2)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,147 ratings  ·  209 reviews

The stories in Annie Proulx's new collection are peopled by characters who struggle with circumstances beyond their control in a kind of rural noir half-light. Trouble comes at them from unexpected angles, and they will themselves through it, hardheaded and resourceful. Bound by the land and by custom, they inhabit worlds that are often isolated, dangerous, and in Proulx's
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 11th 2005 by Scribner (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
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.
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),
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.
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
Tex Tourais
I do love me some Proulx, and I did enjoy this collection, but it suffers from comparisons to "Close Range." The tone is distinctly different in that this collection has lighter, shorter, funnier stories, so it feels less weighty. If you liked "Close Range," and if you found a place in your heart for the short story at the start about Dirt Sheets and the (not quite) omnivorous horse, then this will find a place in there too. "Man Crawling Out of Trees" is the fav. among the literati, but "Summer ...more
Sara Eddy
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.
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
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
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
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

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
It was good! I really enjoyed this collection of stories, despite going into it fully blind, having never read Proulx's work or hearing all that much about her. The book is essentially focused on place rather than a continuous narrative of one character's life story, an approach that creates an intensely remembered image of Wyoming and all its wonders and horrors.
Second installment in the author's Wyoming Stories, this edition is more light-hearted and tongue in cheek. Proulx still populates these Wyoming short stories with oversexed illiterate cowboys and trailer park girls but this round there is a bit more humor. The dozen or so stories feature many of the same characters parked in the same bar (great name - PeeWee's), grumbling, grousing, smoking, spitting, cussing, belching ad nauseam. Imagine a town so boring that all its male inhabitants start a w ...more
Five star for "Summer of Hot Tubs"

I am glad I read that in bed, I literally rolled over in my bed, laughing hysterically.

Five star for The Old Badger Game
It reminds me of why one should not seek tenure track position in the US, more specifically Wyoming.

Five and a-half star for The Contest

last night I had a conversation with a friend about good books, and this book comes to mind. I revisited my reaction when reading stories of those Wyoming characters, and I felt a warm affinity to th
Annie Proulx's collection of stories from the ranches and trailerparks of Wyoming was well worth reading. As an Easterner I have no idea if the denizens of Wyoming Proulx portrays are a representative sampling of Dick Cheyney's neighbors. Proulx is tapping into a solid vein of American short story writers depicting the antics of a host of Westerners who are as bizarre as anybody depicted in Winesburg Ohio or the writings of Faulkner, Crews or Barry Hannah. I especially enjoyed the black humor of ...more
Sharon Huether
Bad Dirt by Anne Proulx This book is a collection of short stories about people from Elk Tooth Wyoming, mostly fiction. The local game warden told poachers he had caught to stand in a sink hole, thus he had very little paper work to turn in. Amanda ran the Pee Wee Bar had a hard time keeping the cows out of her garden, they always broke through the fence. To solve her problem she rented Alligators from flordia from spring to fall to keep the cows at bay. The Stifle family who had little money to ...more
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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
The Shipping News Brokeback Mountain Close Range Accordion Crimes Postcards

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