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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  4,949 ratings  ·  348 reviews
The story of Loyal Blood, a man who spends a lifetime on the run from a crime so terrible that it renders him forever incapable of touching a woman. The odyssey begins on a freezing Vermont hillside in 1944 and propels Blood across the American West.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Fourth Estate (GB) (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,949 ratings  ·  348 reviews

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Why have so few of my GR friends reviewed this brilliant book by such a well-known author? Note: The first two pages have a rather brutal scene (though the details are vague), but there's nothing else like that in the rest of the book, and everything that follows, arises from this incident.

This is Proulx's first novel, published a year before the excellent The Shipping News. It's equally good, but has a very different structure, and the language is not as distinctively clipped or telegraphic.

Dec 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I thought I had a great idea. I saw this on my bookshelf and assumed it was one of those "slice of Americana" books that would put me in the holiday mood.


Holiday mood? How about Deliverance meets Looking for Mr. Goodbar, with a side of rural Pulp Fiction?

I purchased this book a few months back after falling hard for Proulx's brilliant The Shipping News. I have not changed my mind about Annie Proulx's writing, but this novel was a horror to read.

Every part of this world (presumably our
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Proulx is fucking brilliant. The first book I read by her was Shipping News and I was blown away at how she, like ee cummings used punctuation or the lack thereof to make words hang like actual things.

I think Postcards was her first book but that she couldn't get it published until Shipping News was out and did so well. I think she wrote it in college. This makes it even more startling to me.

Postcards is raw and rough and very male. But this woman can write men, particularly men from the
Paul Bryant
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
It's like every sentence you have to hack out of the rockface, it takes forever to read the thing, it's like some kind of titanic struggle you have with it, but when you finally do finish the damn thing you feel like you've been through some kind of... experience. Not sure I need another going over by E Annie Proulx, but this one was memorable.

The author : "Say my name!"
PB : "Ooof, E Annie!"
Pow, kick, bash.
The author : "Say my name!"
PB : "Cough - I already said it - E Annie Proulx! E ANNIE
Judy Vasseur
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Don't come out my farm no more with your damn insemnation racket. We got rid the Holstins. Guess we stick with god local Jersey stock. Do it the old fashion way with a BULL.
—Minkton M. Blood"
It’s a rich, dark, often humorous, in ways painful, epic escapade.

Annie Proulx has her characters experience all kinds of biblical catastrophes. Stuck in a mine explosion with cold water up to the knees so that the feet swell up and eventually the soles of the feet come off when the boots are removed
Oct 23, 2008 rated it liked it
A hard book--not difficult to read, but the characters are hardened, their lives unforgiving, the land stark and mean. Bones jut up out of the soil and rock of this book, suddenly exposed and horrifying.

Proulx contrasts well against Kingsolver, who is all life, growth and healing, while in this book Proulx draws the living dead. Farmers who have lost everything, including limbs. A young man driven from home by guilt that wracks his entire life. Forty years of wandering the West without love or
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I picked this book up because I thought I wouldn't like it and could remove it from my TBR. Not the case! Even though subjects as fossil hunting and uranium mining aren't at the top of my interests, those subjects are covered briefly. There is a ton of research in this book.

This is a very dense book and a reader will get from it as much as s/he puts in. Some of the reviews here are almost Cliff-Noteish on things I never caught. On the other hand the postcards that start each
Brucus Scriptus
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Annie Proulx. 2009. Postcards. London: Fourth Estate-HarperCollins. 7.99/$12: 340 pages.

Finished 6 September 2011. In a recent email to my brother John, I wrote, ‘Am reading Annie Proulx' book Postcards. Just when ya think things can't get worse, they do. Strangely reassuring, that woman's writing is.’

At least one knows what to expect. Postcards is every bit as awful, full of violence and regret as Proulx’ lovely The Shipping News. So why does her writing inspire us? Why does it so faithfully
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
The more of Proulx I read, the more of Proulx I want to read. In this book she frames the passage of time and place through postcards sent to and from the characters in the novel. The protagonist, Loyal Blood, careens through life trying to flee from or reconcile a youthful evil deed. When we meet the man, he is a laconic youngster, wary and skeptical. We watch him evolve, into and out of relationships, into and out of professions, and finally from silent to loquacious as his sharp mind begins ...more
Margo Solod
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if anyone had told me that i could open a book that began with a rape and murder and by the end of the book actually empathise with the male character, i'd have called them nuts. but i did.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-reads
On the front of my copy is a quote from a review by Frederick Busch of the Chicago Tribune: "A rich, dark and brilliant feast of a book." Perfect description. In the first few pages I felt this would go on my fictitious top ten list. Annie Proulx is an extraordinarily gifted author. Postcards was her debut.

The postcards at the beginning of each chapter give us information from outside the story we might not get anywhere else. They give us a timeframe for the setting of each chapter, or perhaps
Amy Arthur
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic. The parade of characters that pass through the narrative are so deftly realized. I can’t wait to read more of her work.
Apr 26, 2012 rated it liked it

I am entirely not sure what to make of this book. First and foremost I admire and applaud the author for thinking so far outside the box. I despise novels that tie everything up into a tidy (but absolutely impossible) bow by the end of the book. This one leaves many loose threads, but a thoughtful reader will have enough to make the stories coherent. The characters in this novel grow, learn, and adapt but always stay on pitch. Perhaps the greatest joy in this read is the breadth of place, time
Mar 12, 2008 added it
I'm not sure if I'm enjoying this book or not - it's so bleak and the characters all seem doomed to a horrible end - and are certainly experiencing pretty terrible middles. Nonetheless, it's really well written and my endless optimism leaves me hoping that something amazing will happen for the characters.
Gail Humphrey
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A challenging author at times, Annie Proulx uses an onslaught of words to illuminate the action or scene and sometimes uses the same technique to wrap the scene in a deliberate mist. A story set in the 1930's 40's and 50's and a family whose members led lives of upheaval. Loyal Blood, one son becomes a itinerate traveller and we are shown different sides of the country. He finds some evil, history, geology, and faces death. At the end, we are left to wonder about the effect of the existence of ...more
Annie Proulx can write, she is a genius with description. The problem lies in the depressive nature of the story and in the assumption that we will understand her obfuscation about Billy's death and the nature of what is wrong with Loyal. She describes but doesn't explain. I realized that I would never see resolution nor gain understanding. I think that the incident with Billy was rape and murder, I think it may not have been the only time. But these are not laid out as clear truths, we don't ...more
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I do not think that Proulx's choice of a name for her lead character is one lightly arrived upon. His name is Loyal Blood and his first act at the opening of this novel is to draw blood from a girl who he rapes and murders. This is done almost off-stage and while the act itself shapes Loyal and the rest of his life, this is not the story of a murder or a murderer. With such an opening, it is almost impossible to believe that you could develop a feeling of empathy for Loyal, but you do. Proulx ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I have to give this book 5 stars. Proulx's writing was amazing and engaging, despite the story being about as bleak as possible. Any romantic notions one might have had about rural Vermont living are pretty much ripped to shreds by this story. It follows multiple characters across 40+ years, watching the lives and farm of the Blood family unfold (or implode, depending upon how you look at it.) The oldest son is forced to leave home under circumstances that are never really explained- we ...more
Katrina Bergherm
Jun 14, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Yuck. I really didn't like the author's writing style. It was often hard to follow the story line because only vague connections were made and there didn't seem to be a point to the whole book. I skimmed alot of it, hoping to find something interesting, but bah....mostly a waste of time.
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Another great, tragic Proulx novel. She hits the nail on the head with human weaknesses and really tells it like it is. This is what I love about her writing--it's beautiful but very harsh at the same time.
Gary Letham
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story of the Blood family, Vermont farmers from 1944 onwards. It starts with a tragedy, Loyal Blood, eldest son of Mink & Jewell Blood kills his girlfriend Billie and buries her body in a hollow under a large walling stone. In order to hide this crime he immediately tell his family that he and Billie are heading west to make a new life for themselves. Mink, Loyal's father does not take this well, he is partially crippled, and the younger son Dub only has one arm. It is evident that ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
The book starts with Loyal Blood killing his fiancee Billy and hiding her in a stone wall on his family farm. He then flees and starts a trek across the nation. He communicates with his family via postcards. While the story focuses on him and his wanderings, there are occasional snapshots of the family that he left behind. His angry father Mink, his complacent mother Jewell, his one-armed brother Dub, and his dreamy sister Mernelle.

The story has been described as the disintegration of a family.
Janet Ashley
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, fiction
Considering I was on vacation while reading this book, and it still took me the whole week to finish, it obviously wasn't a page turner for me. In fact, I nearly abandoned this book, which I don't do lightly. In the end, I'm glad I finished it as I eventually began to enter this world she painted of a lost family and appreciated her way of making you feel the character's hopelessness. However, I've never enjoyed steam of consciousness style of writing, ala Faulkner, so although I appreciated the ...more
Thom Jones
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this book for the same reasons I've cared about all her books. One thing comes back time and again-Proulx's research and attention to detail. No one else I've read is as good at drilling down on a subject as she is (trapping techniques in this book, for example). She must love research.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Life is short, read everything by your favorite authors as soon as possible.
Hal Issen
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspended
I finally got through it after 3 tried. It starts off strong, then kind of peters out in the end. I suppose that mimics life itself. Those who love Annie Proulx (as I do) will like this book, I can't predict the reaction of others.
Robin Reynolds
I struggled to stay interested, and then I set it aside to read something lighter. After finishing the other book, I realized that I just had no interest in going back to this one, so I'm officially DNFing it. I'm not sure what the issue is, I think part of it is the author's writing style just does not appeal to me. Regardless, it won't hold my interest and there are too many other books waiting for me.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Perfect book to read after our trip out west. A bit too long, I got confused with the characters. Oh My, what gorgeous writing. Truly a gift from above ...more
Eithne  Murray
Q: What do you get if you play a country and western song backwards?
A:You get your job back, you get your truck back, you get your woman back.
That is literally the story of Loyal Blood's life, in this novel which is a series of vignettes of American life in the postwar era.
Other reviewers have referenced Biblical overtones in the book. I'm struck by the names of characters.
Does the name Loyal Blood suggest the quintessential American, his mother Jewell the dependable treasure who keeps the
Mar 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of a rural family and the struggles they go through: 1940s - 1980s.

There's a lot going on here.

The oldest son flees the family farm in an attempt to cover up a murder... or maybe an accidental death? It's never really made clear what exactly happened with his girlfriend. Most would probably conclude that he committed was rape/murder in a crime of passion, but there doesn't seem to be much motivation for that. My own conclusion was that it was accidental. But in the end, it doesn't
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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
“The windows of his house shone in the darkness like squares of melting butter.” 7 likes
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