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Heart Songs and Other Stories

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,942 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Before she wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx was already producing some of the finest short fiction in the country. Here are her collected stories, including two new works never before anthologized.

These stories reverberate with rural tradition, the rites of nature, and the rituals of small-town life. The country is blue-colla

Paperback, 203 pages
Published March 17th 1995 by Scribner (first published October 1988)
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3.93  · 
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 ·  1,942 ratings  ·  132 reviews

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James Barker
I'm not a hunter in spirit so I wasn't sure I'd take to this book. But beyond the brutality of the hunt and the poverty detailed in these richly captured stories of life in Chopping County, New England, is the emotional resonance E. Annie Proulx brings to all her work. These are indeed heart songs, songs of hearts flawed by the struggle for life. The tensions between those who are just surviving- those who are as native to the area as the deer- and the rich, summer part-timers who travel up for ...more
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'd felt an aversion to Proulx's books ever since I saw Kevin Spacey in the movie version of her "Shipping News". I didn't dislike Kevin Spacey nor the movie, and the book had been highly recommended by a friend; it was just one of those unexplained, unexplored things. Then I picked up 'Heart Songs and Other Stories' at the Salvation Army for 50 cents, and one night I opened it. It was dark and quiet in the room, and in the second paragraph of the first story ("On the Antler") I read this:

"He we
Ryan Lally
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Heart Songs..." sees Annie Proulx deliver nine stories of rural darkness, greed and dispossession. Referred to elsewhere as, 'Hillbilly-Noir', all the tales are situated in the beautiful yet coarse and unforgiving rural surroundings of New England. Proulx possesses an incredibly adept ability to describe nature and her surroundings, an ability whose likeness brings to mind the work of the late John McGahern, whose luminous descriptions of rural Irish landscapes played an equally integral part o ...more
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 like how well she knows her characters, she is describing a land, a culture, a way of doing things and she does so in a way that you can not only taste it, smell it but you actually get into a mood with each story--it's like you take on the actual mood of the people in the room (in the story).

I t
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aug 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeanette by: Julie
This should be subtitled "Northeastern Rednecks on Parade"! I thought this kind of people only came from the South! She sure knows how to create memorable dysfunctional characters.

These stories take place in rural Vermont among what I guess you'd call hillbillies. Kind of creepy people with long, weird family histories in the area. Some of the stories also involve rich city people who move to the area with glamorous notions of how it's going to be. Before long they find out how wrong they were.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Stunningly original short stories of flawed, dysfunctional people from the north east. Surprising, since you'll swear you're reading about some hillbilly from the South. Full of grit, humour, violence, poverty,sadness, hope. Real people, real places, REALLY good author. Most have apparently been previously published, but I hadn't read them before. Together they comprise songs of the heart of rural America.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Did Annie Proulx invent "hillbilly noir"? I am not sure, but she certainly had to be a front-runner, (this was first published in '88). Tough, raw-boned stories about the down-trodden in the wilds of New England. Bird-hunters, boozers and brawlers, all in shades of grey and brown. Throw in blood, unwashed bodies and a murder or two, and that should draw a perfect picture for you. Fans of Bonnie Jo Campbell & Donald Ray Pollock should eat this stuff up.
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm dreading the end of these stories. They've been the perfect wintery companion since I got them for Christmas. No one, but no one, crafts a short fiction like Proulx and I wish to heaven they were each lengthy novels that I could enjoy indefinitely.
Christopher Roberts
I have been reading Annie Proulx's work for quite a while in The New Yorker. She has been a rare bright spot in my reading of stories in that publication because she offers a rest from the New Yorker formula of dry, depressing stories about wealthy overeducated neurotics. Proulx writes stories about simple people in rural New England and that is so rare these days that she would be worth reading for that alone.

Unfortunately, I found this collection to be very uneven. There is one story in this
Clive Thompson
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A series of short and not so short stories all of which take place in Chopping County, New England. The themes and style of each story run so similarly that the book reads as a novel and sometimes it's difficult to remember that it's not a novel. Again the poetic writing but now it's New England and everyone hunts or keeps the local store. I read this book straight after reading Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath and was struck by the fact that unemployment in 'Grapes' meant starvation while in Ann ...more
Theo Bender
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unglaublich. Dieses Buch ist einfach unglaublich. Ich habe die Bücher von Proulx rückwärts gelesen, erst Schiffsmeldungen, für mich eines der drei Bücher, das ich auf die ominöse,einsame Insel mitnehmen würde, dann Postkarten, und nun dieses unglaubliche Werk, dieses Geschenk.
Herzenslieder sind Kurzgeschichten, die alle in den Bergen von Neuengland spielen. Die Schilderungen der Bewohner kleiner Dörfer, oft nur Siedlungen, der Eindringlinge aus großen Städten, die sich hier Ferienhäuser und -erl
Bill Melville
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Almost every line in this collection is pure poetry. Proulx's stories run through a world of sportsmen, hermits living on dead-end country roads, rich people building mansions on old farms and photographers enamored with the people struggling to survive in the landscape. I couldn't pick a favorite, although this volume's incisive short fiction rivals Proulx's Close Range: Wyoming Stories.
Ian Perkins
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very well written short stories. Beautifully descriptive of country and people, though a little bitter.
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
Proulx's work is so meaty here, each tale travelling the same dark corridor so that you easily forget you are in the short story format.

Poetic, gorgeous language. The characters are flawed, ugly and strikingly original - just the way I like them.

The collection is aptly named for the standout piece, I read that particular tale 3 times and continue to be nourished by the main character's fervor for music & rust.

Enjoyed every beefy bite.
David Ward
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Heart Songs and Other Stories by Annie Proulx (Simon & Shuster 1995) (Fiction). This is a collection of tales of rural Vermonters who must cope with weekenders from the big cities. Author Annie Proulx has moved her observational skills from Wyoming to Vermont for this exercise. No matter where she's writing about, I love Annie Proulx. My rating: 7.5/10, finished 2008.
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
This has Annie Proulx's trademark descriptive jewels. She could've used a good hug or some Prozac while writing these stories, though. They tend toward gloomy, defeated themes and dark futures. Not the book to read if you're looking for a cheering lift. Still, there are some good O Henry endings. Overall, worth the read as long as you're feeling emotionally fit.
Kari Kelly
Aug 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
A book of short stories is clearly not for me. It was like watching television with my 5 minutes of a show and change channel, watch 5 minutes of a show and change channel! The stories are actually written well, I just can't do the channel surfing in a book.
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Everything about these stories is simply wonderful. These aren't characters; they are people, real people with all the delicious quirks that make them so human.
BOOK: Magnificent NE USA stories.. Critic: "..bites like hard cider. I'm wild for it. I wish it was three times as long"
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Heart Songs and Other stories is Annie Proulxs first short story collection and although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as That Old Ace in the Hole and Fine Just the Way it is, it contains enough that is quintessentially Proulx that it was still a good read.

In this collection, it seems as though Proulx is more focused on outsiders to the rural areas of Wyoming where most of her stories are set. Summer hunting and fishing vacationers, rich interlopers who build palatial homes taking advantage, o
Moushine Zahr
This is the first title I read from author Annie Proulx. This book is composed of 11 short stories all set in mountain rural areas. The author describes well the various landscapes of the areas nearby mountains. The author depicts with details the lives of people who lived there during generations or who recently moved in from a city whether permanently or for holiday. All these short stories are similar in the way the author describes the beautiful sceneries, which contradicts with the hard con ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Book 13

Heart Songs
Annie Proulx


Annie Proulx's Close Range: Wyoming Stories was probably the best thing I've read all year last year. This collection, published eleven years earlier, not so much. It's not that it is overly descriptive and dense and therefore demanding, because this is still Annie Proulx, one of America's finest contemporary writers, it just seems to lack depth. These characters live hard lives in rough conditions and if we are to spend time in their company we might as well
Dec 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
According to what I had read, the author's prose was described as dry, plain, harsh; this book turned out to be quite the opposite. I do not enjoy grandiloquent prose with three or four adjectives or the ceaseless recurrence of metaphors, it is not really my style, even less in this collection of dull stories which have little or plot at all, not even the one who gives the book a title. It is pretty much a sequence of scenes without any direction. If this serves as some sort of postcard to the g ...more
Rob Thistleton
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very atmospheric. Strong d full characters. If I'm honest I was left a bit disappointed at the end. This was due to feeling "is that it" but on reflection, maybe that was the point.
Her style of writing is quite unique. Looking at stoicism and its relationship between characters and landscape.
Her style challenges the reader to keep trying to understand her as well as her characters. I not enjoy in the same way as "The Shipping News"
Overall whilst I did not find it an easy read, due to my own read
There's so much to admire in these stories. Most of all, perhaps, is the prosody. These are perfect sentences. Take one word out and you've ruined it.

My favourite Annie Proulx so far, though it could just be that I'm learning how to read her.

Would not recommend to everyone, because of the death and violence.
Christopher  Ryan
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm a huge Proulx fan, but save for a handful of stunners, these stories don't hold up to her later output. There's a lot of animal slaughter and trudging through the woods and petty feuds. The tales laying out grander stakes and more active characters outshine the rest tenfold.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Dark and raw and beautifully written stories but definitely not what I needed right now.
Leland William
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Marvelous vocabulary and wonderful stories
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rather unusual, but very creative short stories.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
gritty short stories with rural characters. barely 3 stars more like 2 . she doesn't use a story arc, which I value. ...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