Elizabeth (Alaska)'s Reviews > Close Range

Close Range by Annie Proulx
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really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories, late-20th-century, women

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 these two men: Ennis, who could barely accept who he was, and Jack, who so desperately needed Ennis. I have not - and will not - see the film. I don't know what they might have done to this story, but probably came close to ruining it.

I liked The Mud Below about a young man who chooses to become a rodeo bull rider. Rodeo night in a hot little Okie town and Diamond Felts was inside a metal chute a long way from the scratch on Wyoming dirt he named as home, sitting on the back of bull 82N, a loose-skinned brindle Brahma-cross identified in the program as Little Kisses. I'm sure there are lifestyles more difficult than a bull rider on the circuit, but most of us don't know about them.

One of the darkest stories is People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water. A woman doesn't get much of a life out in the middle of nowhere Wyoming. She might see her chance to walk away from a man and leave him to raise the nine boys she bore him. But what happens to those children? At barely two pages, the shortest story is 55 Miles to the Gas Pump. Proulx might have intended more humor in the stories than I got. 55 Miles may be the darkest humor I've ever encountered and yet it was definitely there.

As with any collection, there is bound to be a story that just missed the mark for the reader and there were those, too. All in all this is a good collection and I'm happy to give it 4-stars. Only for those 2-3 misses does it fall short of the 5-star mark.
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Reading Progress

March 28, 2011 – Shelved
June 11, 2011 – Shelved as: short-stories
June 22, 2013 – Shelved as: late-20th-century
July 20, 2016 – Shelved as: in-my-possession
July 20, 2016 – Shelved as: wish-list
January 21, 2017 – Shelved as: women
June 15, 2018 – Started Reading
August 8, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol Actually they did a good job with the movie Brokeback Mountain. I don’t believe you would be disappointed. I wasn’t. It was very real and very sad.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Carol wrote: "Actually they did a good job with the movie Brokeback Mountain. I don’t believe you would be disappointed. I wasn’t. It was very real and very sad."

Movies tend to be much shallower than books. I've given up on movies entirely.


message 3: by Tucker (last edited Aug 12, 2018 10:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tucker Great review Elizabeth! Annie Proulx is such an amazing author - it seems that every word she writes is very carefully chosen and the stories she tells are unforgettable. I had the good fortune of meeting her once, something I'll never forget.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Tucker wrote: "I had the good fortune of meeting her once, something I'll never forget. "

I'm jealous. There are only a few authors I'd care to meet, but she is certainly one of them.


Poornima I watched and loved Brokeback Mountain. The pathos of it all, so beautifully captured. And I never read a book if I've seen the movie and vice versa. Especially if I like it. But I did enjoy the story 'Brokeback Mountain' though the movie played in my head when I was reading it. And liked the movie infinitely better.


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