Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx follows the success of Close Range with another remarkable collection of short stories set in Wyoming.
Bad Dirt is filled with the vivid and willful characters for which Proulx has become known. Each occupies a community or landscape described in rich and robust language, with an eye for detail unparalleled in American fiction.
In ‘The Contest’, the men of Elk Tooth, Wyoming, vow to put aside their razors for two seasons and wait to see who has the longest beard come the 4th of July. Deb Sipple, the moving protagonist of ‘That Trickle Down Effect’, finds that his opportunism – and his smoking habit – lead to a massive destruction. And ‘What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?’ is the story of Gilbert Wolfscale, whose rabid devotion to his ranch drives off his wife and sons.
Proulx displays her wit in every story of this stunning collection, as well as her knowledge of the West, of history, of ranching and farming. Her profound sympathy for characters who must use sheer will and courage to make it in tough territory makes this collection extraordinarily compelling.
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Her images are so alert and novel she makes a world entirely her own…there are a number of stories here that show proulx at her marvellous best…There are great pleasures to be had from this collection…the greatest pleasure is the way she does it.' Geraldine Bedell, Observer
'Performs inspired imaginative feats' Alex Clark, Sunday Times
Proulx writes in wonderful stews, everything thrown in together…the stories demand a second reading.' Daily Telegraph
'Her keen eye for idiosyncrasy ensures her continuing reputation as one of the shrewdest chroniclers of contemporary America. David Robson, Sunday Telegraph
The notion of a small settlement of people whose narratives, from the anecdotal to the archetypal, criss-cross like so many humming telegraph wires gives Proulx an elegant framework on which to hang these stories, whose sour sometimes brutal folksiness gains a singular resonance from the fine, sinewy prose in which they are rendered.' Jane Shilling, The Times
'Bad Dirt takes a second tour along the interface between these two states, were anxiety opens up the landscape like an old map, along the worn folds and creases and unmade backroads of which we find not just the geography we expect – the rural towns, population fifty, which at dusk stain the mountain darkness with ''a globe of light like an incandescent jellyfish'' – but also what Proulx calls the ''real Wyoming'', the trailer parks full of ''poor, hardworking transients, tough as nails and restless, going where the dollars grew''.
M. John Harrison, TLS
'Proulx's stories are at their best when they merge this deadpan, offbeat humour with a deeper purpose. As in her great novels Postcards and The Shipping News, Proulx arrives at situations of considerable pathos only after traversing wide stretches of dark comedy.' Stephen Amidon, Literary ReviewFrom the Back Cover:
Annie Proulx's Wyoming - already familiar to readers of the best-selling collection Close Range - is at once ordinary and extraordinary, an isolated expanse of wasters and dreamers, whose inhabitants say there's no place like home but long for buffets and icebergs, imported olives and French cornichons. It is a state in which men grow beards competitively, in which a magic wish-granting kettle is as likely to bring microwave ovens as murder, in which Bible classes wonder 'What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?'
Bad Dirt is filled with the vivid and wilful characters for which Annie Proulx has become known: Cheri Wham, who married the sociopathic school bully and is raising a herd of beer-swilling children; Dr Playfire, who casts smug aspersions on his patients' paternity; Gilbert Wolfscale, who farms turkeys and adorns them with cranberry Thanksgiving necklaces to outdo the plastic-wrapped supermarket birds and their 'breasts like Las Vegas strippers'.
Annie Proulx has a profound sympathy for her unassumingly innocent characters, whose deepest secrets and desires are revealed with masterful skill. With cleverly wrought complications and magical twists, her latest collection is a work of wonderful imagination and unrivalled storytelling.
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Book Description HarperPerennial, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007196911