Sunday, November 30, 2008

Recent Reading: Annie Proulx's Wyoming Stories from 'Bad Dirt'

During this long political season, AT has been distracted by politics and political commentary. As a result, we neglected our literary posts, which, we admit, is one of our abiding interests.

Thankfully, the holiday weekend gave us a chance to catch up a bit and spend some time with Annie Proulx and her wonderfully gritty Wyoming stories. We recently found a used hardback copy of Bad Dirt, the second volume of her Wyoming stories (the first volume was Close Range, if memory serves).

Proulx, who lives in Wyoming part of the year and seems to have a special insight into the people there, writes about folks in the fictional town of Elk Tooth, where the locals frequent one of the hamlet's three bars.

As we suggested above, most of Proulx's stories feature tough, hard-working characters, ranch hands, game wardens and bartenders who live in trailers and manage to scrape out a living on the high plains of the mountain west.

The opening story, "The Hellhole," features a game warden named Creel Zmundzinski and some of his surly law breakers, who, in Proulx's imagination, get their comeuppance in a particularly vicious way.

Another story focuses on Willy Huson, an Elk Tooth eccentric, who once had a good out-of-town job as a mechanic for United Airlines but returned home to fix cars and lawn mowers, at least when the feeling strikes. In this story, however, Huson decides to set up a hot tub outside his trailer, which is why the story is called "Summer of the Hot Tubs."

Next time you're in the market for some original short fiction with an edgy twist, check out Annie Proulx's Wyoming stories. She's the real deal.


Yogi said...

I read Close Range but not Wyoming Stories yet. She really is the real deal. I have relatives, not in Wyoming, but in Idaho, and she is very good at describing these folks.

Alternative Tulsa said...

Thanks for your comment. We rarely receive any comments on our literary posts, which we take as a bad sign (that is, a sign that people are not reading serious lit). So it's great to hear that someone else around here is paying attention to Proulx and other fiction writers.