Judy Vasseur's Reviews > That Old Ace in the Hole

That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx
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's review
Jan 21, 08

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Read in January, 2008

I want to move to Woolybucket and have Brother Mesquite teach me how to ride. Woolybucket doesn't really exist in the Texas panhandle. But in the book, a woman living there 16 years is still considered a new-comer. Residents know each other's business and tragedies...not like here in Brooklyn where I don't know the names of my neighbors after living here 10 years.

I keep wondering what Cy might be serving today at the Old Dog. Something with pineapple? Twice baked potatoes? Onion pie?

"...Plenty a onion pie, what they used a call 'quiche,' which the guys here would not eat if I called it that, but if I say 'onion pie' they like it. It's the word 'pie.' If I said 'shit pie,' they'd eat it."

The book sort of keeps living in my head even after reading the last word on the last page. You get the feeling that the characters continue living their lives.

This story is about aging ranchers, their rundown land, and the aspirations of Global Pork Rind to buy up property for Hog Farms. The corporation doesn't consider pigs to be animals, they are "pork units"

It's also about a young man's journey from being abandoned by his parents to finding a meaningful place in the world to call home. Bob wears expensive loafers but only because his Uncle Tam found them in a donation box at his junk shop, just his size.

The book is also about weather, landscape, food, interesting characters, history. Proulx tracks historical changes from the 1800's to present day. She mentions a zine called "Dishwasher" which I remember reading back in the 80's. All the pay phones are being ripped out in Woolybucket because most people have a cell phone now, to the inconvenience of those (like myself) who refuse to get a cell phone.

Proulx paints pictures with words. The bible-themed quilts the women create, modeling Adam after Cy, the hairiest rancher around. ( why LaVon won't eat at the Old Dog fearing his hair falls in the food ) the sheriff who has a secret bed-wetting problem and a black belt in many forms of martial art but ends up getting both arms broken by a woman.

The road is the color of almonds or grapefruit pith depending on the time of day or the humidity or the weather. Annie Proulx creates a beautiful, tragic, interesting, moral planet and then all of a sudden you recognize it and you realize you've lived there all along.

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