Becky's Reviews > Close Range: Wyoming Stories

Close Range by Annie Proulx
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's review
Dec 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories
Read from December 21, 2011 to January 12, 2012

So, Annie Proulx is a wizard of the English language who brings to vivid life a hauntingly beautiful, devastatingly lonely part of the country that once you're there you can't quit (yes, this collection includes "Brokeback Mountain"). The themes in this book are, at times, absolutely depressing--lots of premature deaths, most of the women (though usually just in passing mention) are sexually abused at some point or another, and there are a disproportionate number of people who are completely stuck on some event of their youth that they are condemned to play out over and over again.

That being said, I really liked this book. The contrasts she brings out ring really true to me--how deeply we can love places that treat us, at times, quite harshly.

All the reviews of this book say things like "Annie Proulx's fierce love of Wyoming is evident," but my friend who recommended it to me said, "Empty. Scary. It really disabused me of my romantic notions of the West."

But the thing is, they're not mutually exclusive. Part of the romance is in the devastating loneliness. There's something about that kind of country that hypnotizes you--creates a kind of joy you might confuse with happiness, while experiencing extreme isolation at the same time. Is it worth it? I didn't think so, but I can see why others might think differently.

My favorite stories in this collection were those that bordered on the fantastical: "The Blood Bay," which features a man who saws off a frozen corpse's feet for boots; "The Bunchgrass Edge of the World," in which a young girl develops a friendship with a tractor; and "Pair a Spurs," in which spurs made by a doomsaying, comet-watching Californian develop a strange attraction to a man with metal hip replacements.

As I said, I overall really enjoyed this book--although it ran a bit slow and very dark at times. A worthwhile read for sure, but I think I'm going to need a bit of a breather before reading Annie Proulx again. Or, maybe "Brokeback Mountain" is just a heartbreaking way to end a short story collection.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Scott (new)

Scott Hey I have a question. Is this book explicit? Does it have profanity? Moreover, sexually explicit or have nudity in it? Thanks!

Becky It does contain profanity and a few sex scenes. It's been a few months since I read this book, so it's not completely fresh in my head at the moment, but there might be one or two stories in there that are more G-rated. Good luck!

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