"[Fine Just the Way It Is] bears Proulx's brand of hard drama, hard irony, hard weather and hard and soft characters blown about and many times destroyed by the powerful mix..... She writes like a demon." Ron Carlson, The New York Times Book Review
"Vivid.... In the tour de force finale ... we see the method in Proulx's genius, where he enchanting description, unparalleled sentence structure, and unwavering insight combine to reveal both the coldest and most resilient recesses of the human heart." Pam Houston, O, the Oprah Magazine
"Astonishing.... 'Tits-up in a Ditch' breaks new literary ground with the gut-wrenching tale of an Iraq veteran who returns to her family raw with grief... unforgettable characters." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"[Fine Just the Way It Is] takes gigantic steps toward securing Proulx's position as one of the most inventive yet, at the same time, traditional story writers working today." Booklist, starred review
"Deliciously macabre stories....A must for fans." People, 3 1/2 stars
"[Proulx] shows without mincing words that the present-day West is every bit as inhumane and vengeful as it was way back when... Excellent and original...." Kate Christensen, Elle
"Nine unforgettable stories.... [An] assured and unnerving collection." Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
"'Tits-Up in a Ditch' ... rivals Proulx's famous 'Brokeback Mountain' in the tender-tough emotional trajectory it explores." Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times
"Proulx writes with clear-eyed, ironic affection about life in the real West, not the sentimental version.... Breathtaking." Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times
"Brilliant." Associated Press
The characters in Annie Proulx's third collection of Wyoming Stories include cowboys, an Iraq veteran, pioneer homesteaders, assorted wayward hippies, ambitious real estate developers, and the Devil himself. These nine short stories brim with vivid characters and crisp setups from a master of the subgenre.
Annie Proulx turned 73 last month, and age has not softened her one bit. For almost three decades she has dazzled readers with fierce, casually brutal stories set in rural America. And her latest collection of Wyoming tales, Fine Just the Way It Is, excavates new riches from this golden vein.
The Washington Post
This is Annie Proulx, a writer who staked her claim around the spectacular rectangle of Wyoming by marking its "metes and bounds" with Close Range, took insurance on it with Bad Dirt and now appears with Fine Just the Way It Is, a third collection of Wyoming stories, just to make sure. The title could be paraphrased "Even if it's broken, don't fix it." Close Range is a remarkable book, lyric and gritty, and it contains "Brokeback Mountain," a breathtaking love story. But each of these collections bears Proulx's brand of hard drama, hard irony, hard weather, and hard and soft characters blown about and many times destroyed by the powerful mix. Her sense of story is admirable, her sentences are artful, and she writes like a demon. She has nicely disrupted the mythology of the Old West.
The New York Times
Will Patten is a fine actor who fits voice and pace to the tone of each story in this collection. He is often a quiet, dreamy narrator, but when stories slowly navigate toward a terrible, heart-in-mouth tension-as Proulx's so often do-he assumes a breathiness that significantly heightens the drama. As tale-teller, Patten has a slight Western accent; this sounds right, but also enables him to use a range of dialects as appropriate for each character. In a more straightforward manner, he narrates Proulx's amusing (though less successful) tales of the Devil redesigning Hell. Proulx, best known for Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, turns out prose as exquisite as ever in her wrenching tales of Wyoming, past and present. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, May 26). (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The National Book Award® and Pulitzer Prize® winner returns to the American West of Brokeback Mountain with this collection, which opens with a former ranch hand telling his granddaughter his life's secrets. It is difficult to distinguish where each story begins and ends owing to the lack of any demarcation. Additionally, there are hardly any pauses between the stories; narrator Will Patton (Thirteen Moons) reads each successive title as though part of the previous tale. Recommended for public libraries with larger audiobook collections.
Setting not only shapes but dwarfs the protagonists in the third collection of short stories by Proulx since her relocation to Wyoming. It would be unfair to expect any of these stories to match the provocative power of the first volume's "Brokeback Mountain" (from Close Range: Wyoming Stories, 1999), but after a decade of mining the same rugged landscape, Proulx's fiction seems to have succumbed to the law of diminishing returns. Her prose remains as prickly as ever, but some of her stories verge on folk tales and tall tales with stock figures. The nine stories here include comparative snippets featuring the Devil and his "demon secretary," suggesting modern but minor Mark Twain. Within the colloquially titled "Tits-Up in a Ditch," she conveys the passage of time in a seemingly timeless region through a male character who resists it: "For him television was never as good as radio. He found that screen images were inferior to those in his mind . . . After his youthful start flirting with useless ideas sown by the eastern professors, he had dedicated himself to maintaining the romantic heritage of the nineteenth-century ranch, Wyoming's golden time." Despite her own romance with the region, Proulx recognizes in "Them Old Country Songs" that the idealized past was "a time when love killed women." The state remains a tough place to live, rendered by Proulx in prose that resists sentimentality and refuses to revel in myth. Yet one senses that Wyoming has played itself out for the author, at least as an inspiration for her fiction. If she has another novel in her as ambitious as The Shipping News (1992), which employed a very different setting as practically a protagonist, she may needto seek inspiration elsewhere. Maybe a third of these nine stories rank with her best; the slightest seem like filler.