Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in this collection of stories about loneliness, quick violence, and wrong kinds of love. In "The Mud Below", a rodeo rider's obsession marks the deepening fissures between his family life and self-imposed isolation. In "The Half-Skinned Steer", an elderly fool drives west to the ranch he grew up on for his brother's funeral, and dies a mile from home. In "Brokeback Mountain", the difficult affair between two cowboys survives everything but the world's violent intolerance.
These are stories of desperation, hard times, and unlikely elation, set in a landscape both brutal and magnificent. Enlivened by folk tales, flights of fancy, and details of ranch and rural work, they juxtapose Wyoming's traditional character and attitudes, confrontation of tough problems, prejudice, persistence in the face of difficulty, with the more benign values of the new west.
This collection includes:
"The Half-Skinned Steer", read by Bruce Greenwood
"A Lonely Coast", read by Frances Fisher
"People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water", read by Campbell Scott
"The Mud Below", read by Bruce Greenwood
"The Blood Bay", read by Campbell Scott
"The Bunch-Grass Edge of the World", read by Frances Fisher
"Brokeback Mountain", read by Campbell Scott
"The author is a true original in every sense of the word, and her evocation of the West is as singular and surprising as that of Cormac McCarthy or Ivan Doig. Close Range is Proulx at her best." (Amazon.com)
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A Wonderfully Ironic and Surprising Read
Like the previous reviewer, I don???t usually enjoy short stories. I don???t know why. In fact, this is the first book of short stories I have downloaded in my many years of being an Audible member. However, unlike the previous reviewer, I highly recommend Proulx???s text. Do realize that Proulx doesn???t provide fairy tale endings. Rather, she captures the ironic nature of living in a world that is ugly and beautiful, cruel and loving, desolate and plentiful. She describes the rich and sometimes impoverished sense of Wyoming and any other open range that seldom embraces an easy life, particularly in human terms. Proulx???s Wyoming and other spaces like Wyoming don???t always tolerate humans. Nevertheless, the humans Proulx describes (and others I???ve known) feel compelled to inhabit (conquer?) these open spaces. She reminds us of human frailty in the midst of large spaces that can???t be conquered. I liked these stories, even if they made me feel small. I liked the surprises even if they weren???t pleasant. I liked the humanity even when it seemed to get lost in acres of snow or mud. And I liked how humanity is frequently defeated even as it is elevated.
- Susan L. Stewart
I had forgotten what a good writer she is