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Close Range

(Wyoming Stories #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  13,789 ratings  ·  958 reviews
Short-story collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes.

Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in these tales of loneliness, quick violence, and the wrong kinds of love. Each of the portraits in Close Range reveals characters fiercely wrought with precision and grace.

These ar
Paperback, 285 pages
Published February 10th 2000 by Scribner (first published May 10th 1999)
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 ·  13,789 ratings  ·  958 reviews

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"It was her voice that drew you in... she could make you smell the smoke from an unlit fire."
That refers to a character in one of the stories, but is just as applicable to Proulx herself.

This is a collection of short stories of Wyoming ranchers, including Brokeback Mountain. It's a harsh environment and a harsh life: men and women alike have to be tough. "Wyos are touchers, hot blooded and quick, and physically yearning. Maybe it's because they spend so much time handling livestock".

There are fe
I appreciated this almost as well as the third in her collection of “Wyoming Stories”, Fine Just the Way It Is . There is a lot of variety among the eleven stories, but it has cohesion from the Wyoming setting and common struggles of people there to achieve their dreams, whether it’s ranching or rodeo bull riding. They keep you on your toes, as some stories end with a bang and others with a whimper, some stay coast downward in gritty reality and others break into the fantasy of a ghost story or ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Annie Proulx proves she's got bigger balls than most of the male writers out there.
Whether they're roping, ranching, or riding the rodeo, the characters in these tales are all tough, hard-living people who do what needs to be done and don't spend a lot of time whining about it.

Some of their exploits made my mouth drop open:

Their endurance of pain was legendary. When a section of narrow mountain trail broke away under Marion's horse, the horse falling with him onto rocks below, the a
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Tell you what, them queer cowboys like to broke my heart. Annie Proulx, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Your strange mix of roughed up realism and supernatural does something to my insides. It’s too much for ordinary sentence structure. Pours out all over the confines of punctuation, seeping into my subconscious until I’m drunk and reeling reading just a sentence then a few paragraphs and soon the whole story to anyone who’ll listen. And still I want more.
Connie G
The stark beauty of wide open spaces and the love of outdoor life bonded many of the characters to the land in Annie Proulx's first book of her Wyoming trilogy. But other characters left the hardships, isolation, and loneliness of the rural Wyoming towns, never to return. Some worked tough, physical, low-paying jobs in the harsh Wyoming environment and used alcohol to cope. Wealthy people bought failing ranches to use as dude ranches for weekend getaways.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories is composed
Ian Hewitt
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A truly wonderful book, that I don't mind telling you made me cry like a baby.

"Nobody leaves Wyoming unless they have to," Annie Proulx. I'm pleased I waited until I had to leave Wyoming to read this book, despite it stirring powerful feelings of homesickness. I had encountered 1-2 Proulx stories in the New Yorker before now, I had loved the film version of Brokeback Mountain, and of course, I lived in Laramie for a decade where Proulx is something of a quiet celebrity.

The passage quoted below,
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with a brain
I absolutely love E. Annie Proulx. She does that thing with words that makes me go all dissociated from the world around me and live inside the world she creates. I am almost always disturbed by her stories but I can't stop reading them. In fact, her writing is so good that when I saw "Brokeback Mountain" (which I saw *before* I read her short fic on which it was based), I didn't think it was a great story... until I read her actual story. There is ONE line in her piece that makes the story GREA ...more
Uneven, yet generally interesting collection of eleven stories.

Brokeback Mountain is the one with a movie adaptation and you can see why. It's one of the best stories of the bunch - taut, well-written, emotionally complex. At her best, you could reasonably compare Proulx to Flannery O'Connor - masterly writers of the grotesque and lonesome.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
None of the characters in this collection has an easy time of it. Nearly all come from poor and/or broken homes. Many left home too young for them to have had much of a chance. With few exceptions, these characters have unusual, distinctive names. No matter their names, they seem real enough.

The prose of Annie Proulx that I loved in The Shipping News and Postcards was best displayed in the last story of this collection Brokeback Mountain. It flowed more easily, and it was clear that she felt for
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: a reality check
Shelves: troubles-abound, land
Before Brokeback Mountain gets taken entirely out of context, take a look at Annie Proulx's Close Range: Wyoming Stories, the collection in which the story is featured. If you've seen the movie but have yet to read the story, I suggest you begin here. If you've already read the story by itself, come back to this collection entire. While Diana Ossana (one of the movie's produces & screenwriters) came across it in the New Yorker and felt inspired to write a screenplay, the story itself does no ...more
Dec 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: b.r. myers, again, once he works through his issues in psychoanalysis
I love E. Annie Proulx. I honestly think that Myers guy must just have some problems he's got to sort out. I didn't read his book, but the examples he gave in that article of how awful her prose is only reminded me how much I enjoy her stuff, and made me want to go back and read some Proulx again. And I really don't think I'm especially pretentious, or cowed by snooty literary reviewers, whom I barely read. In fact I barely read at all these days, I have such a short attention span, and to me th ...more
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Proulx is so good she can make me like short stories. So good she can make her words almost poetic in their beauty about Wyoming - a place where the inhabitants need to be tougher than their environment. It is a bleak hardscrabble world with only the grimmest sort of humour.

As other reviewers have mentioned, Brokeback Mountain is the outstanding tale - a love story of surprising tenderness. & I find Job History oddly flat - I'm sure it was deliberate & I have missed some subtle nuances.

Colin McKay Miller
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of stories about country livin'
I’m more inclined to recommend individual stories out of E. Annie Proulx’s Close Range as opposed to the whole book. Every story is set in Wyoming (as is noted by the book’s subtitle). This makes for an interesting dynamic as the reader already has an idea of what Wyoming is like and a setting description given in one story can bleed over into the others. The most famous story is now “Brokeback Mountain” because nothing promotes a book like the movie. (For the record, “Brokeback Mountain” is one ...more
Aug 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Just reread this, after I kept looking up, seeing it on the shelf, and thinking, "Man, I need to reread that."

There isn't a wasted word in this book. The stories are lean, visceral, and operatic. Her characters and plots surprise in the way that Flannery O'Connor's do, by spontaneous manifestations of grace and evil.

The collection begins and ends with two masterpieces: "The Half-Skinned Steer"--a tale of fate that uses an Icelandic legend--and "Brokeback Mountain," a love story that rings with
Joe S
Dec 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my Republican rancher father, who will love the covers off this book
Shelves: short-stories
If you already know why Annie Proulx rox ur fuckin face off, then I don't know why you're reading a review instead of the book itself. It's Annie Fuckin Proulx. Read it, you bastard.

Proulx gets away with all the shit that no one else could. A grab bag of voices, all unlikely, that switch mid-sentence; stories that end long after the first narrative arc dead-ended and long before the second gets off the ground; nonsensical lines that don't mean squat no matter how you squint but sure sound purdy.
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Annie Proulx of the Shipping News and Accordion Crimes knows Wyoming. And she displays it in all its gory glory in Close Range. This collection of short stories isn't always easy to read. There are some rough topics and the stories often have a high component of local slang in their telling. Local mores and culture may be at odds with your values and experiences.

Just start plowing through it and you will be rewarded. For my money, The Mud Below is as good a short story as you are likely to find
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The conventional wisdom in short stories, I feel, is that they encompass short periods of time and examine the profound significance of small events. The stories in Close Range, however, seem to take the opposite approach - lifetimes are squeezed into ten or twenty pages, the distilled essence of memories are arranged like objects on a table that, taken together, capture the undercurrent of entire lives. In this way they read like novels that have been boiled down, their steam piped through an a ...more
Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Excellent. I usually react a bit badly to the faux-naif voice, which she slips in and out of. But eventually the overwrought language began to seem just exuberant. And the tragedies of the stories were more celebratory than painful: these characters push almost joyfully toward their doom. (Christ, I loved "The Blood Bay," the little yarn that stops long before the characters get whatever it is they have coming.) The leaping language that stops every once in a while to use their voice -- "Pair A ...more
Jul 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a set of modern folktales. A lot of the tales are sort of frightening. Proulx has a bitter, tasty, dark humor. Most of the characters are lonely and miserable.

Proulx is a writer like McCarthy who manages to fit in a great deal of mechanical detail that somehow makes the story more gripping and immediate, instead of causing it to lag. The difference between Proulx and McCarthy (as fierce, modern writers of westerns) is that McCarthy can write convincingly about the punishing violence of t
Aug 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
"Only earth and sky matter. Only the endlessly repeated flood of morning light. You begin to see that God does not owe us much beyond that." (99)

Annie Proulx creates some very convincing characters and stories. Her descriptions and sentences often make me reread and analyze them, how amazing her metaphors and deep her imagery. She is an extremely talented writer.

All of these stories are steeped in Wyoming culture, life and lore. The collection starts out very strong, and ends even stronger, alth
Jun 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Should actually be subtitled "Why Not to Live in Wyoming." Seriously, this is one of the most depressing collections of short stories I've ever encountered. Which is not to say they're not good, just that I'd kind of like to challenge Proulx to write a bit of light comedy or something.

"Brokeback Mountain" is the best, and I actually find the story much more evocative and powerful than the film. (Not that Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger making out is anything to sneeze at, mind.) Still, I'm glad
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really amazing collection of short stories. I had several favorites throughout the book, and I was genuinely surprised that the length of the story didn't really matter to me. My favorite story, Job History, was only 10 pages. 'The Bunchgrass Edge of the World' and 'Pair a Spurs' were other favorites. I think that Proulx is an excellent writer with a pretty much limitless imagination. Among the other things that surprised me was the variety in the stories. They didn't read like more o ...more
Davida Chazan
Author Annie Proulx became famous after her short story “Brokeback Mountain” was made into a movie in 2005 that won three Academy Awards and received five more Oscar nominations. (Plus, Proulx was just awarded the 2018 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.) This short story was originally published in the collection “Close Range: Wyoming Stories.” You can read my review of this book in my latest blog post here.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are two more volumes of Wyoming Stories. I'm pretty excited about that!
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
What am I to make of this collection of stories of people enduring a harsh, unforgiving landscape, hopeless lives with bleak futures, banally cruel family relationships, and little, very little spark of insight or growth? The spare writing with its staccato rhythms added to the sense of despair, the feel that the stories were pounding away at me much as life was pounding away at the characters. There are outstanding turns of phrase in these stories; the writing is technically superb. But reading ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-in-english
Great collection of stories. "Brokeback Mountain" is probably the most famous one, for obvious reasons, but all the others are equally good. I'm amazed at Annie Proulx's ability to convey the male perspective, especially in such particular (and masculine) circumstances as rodeo or ranching. Her prose is quite harsh and unvarnished, and full of dry humour, just like Wyoming itself and its people, but at the same time it's beautiful in its bluntness, even poetic. I found these stories irresistible ...more
Kent Winward
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
These stories capture the hard edge of the rural West. This is the land and its natural brutality crushing and pounding into human emotions. Indeed the land hits from close range.
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a beautifully written book. The prose is so well crafted and polished until it shines. Annie Proulx’s subtle mixture of the character’s voice and local dialect and slang with her own elegiac descriptions is a great example of free indirect style. She is amazing at describing landscapes and summing up people in a few sentences and she’s good at the subtlety of smell (all these cattle ranchers pong). My favourite stories were Brokeback Mountain – but you kind of imagine the story with ...more
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really lovely, really kind of subtly tremendous with both its people and its place. It’s just the kind of thing I want to read. It’s how to be in love with a place that will eat you alive.

Other cultures have camped here a while and disappeared. Only earth and sky matter. Only the endlessly repeated flood of morning light. You begin to see that God does not owe us much beyond that.
— “People In Hell Just Want a Drink of Water”

(In my quest to read the books my favorite authors have read, chalk up
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A book like this causes its reader to thank God, unironically and humbly, for allowing her to come across it.

A few lucky accidents brought Close Range into my hands. First, we caught the last half of a very edited-for-tv Brokeback Mountain, flipping channels after a long, hot mid-Atlantic day. When I got back to Los Angeles, I mentioned to my sister that I wanted to read Brokeback Mountain, the story. She had to return some books anyway, so the next evening the book was in my hands, as if it had
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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

Other books in the series

Wyoming Stories (3 books)
  • Bad Dirt
  • Fine Just the Way it Is
“Anyway, there's something wrong with everybody and it's up to you to know what you can handle.” 35 likes
“You stand there, braced. Cloud shadows race over the buff rock stacks as a projected film, casting a queasy, mottled ground rash. The air hisses and it is no local breeze but the great harsh sweep of wind from the turning of the earth. The wild country--indigo jags of mountain, grassy plain everlasting, tumbled stones like fallen cities, the flaring roll of sky--provokes a spiritual shudder. It is like a deep note that cannot be heard but is felt, it is like a claw in the gut...
...Other cultures have camped here a while and disappeared. Only earth and sky matter. Only the endlessly repeated flood of morning light. You begin to see that God does not owe us much beyond that.”
More quotes…