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.
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
About the author
Annie Proulx published her first novel Postcards in 1991 at the age of 56. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News, the acclaimed novels Accordion Crimes and That Old Ace in the Hole, and the bestselling short story collection, Close Range.
The beautiful and harsh terrain of Wyoming and the tough and often eccentric people who make their lives there are again on display in this collection of stories (a sequel to the much-lauded Close Range: Wyoming Stories). In "What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?" Gilbert Wolfscale struggles with drought and debt to hold on to the ranch that has been passed down in his family for generations, driving off his wife and two sons, who have no interest in continuing the legacy. Many old-time ranch owners in this territory are women, and they face similar struggles: in "The Trickle Down Effect," Fiesta Punch hires local ne'er-do-well Deb Sipple for a long-distance hay haul, with disastrous results. Proulx does leaven her tales of hardship and woe with a dry humor, and she doesn't forget to tackle the misguided romance sought by newcomers to the land, as in "Man Crawling Out of Trees," in which a retired couple from the Northeast find that the quiet truce of their marriage can't survive encounters with the resentful locals. While none of the stories in this collection approaches the sweep and wholeness of "Brokeback Mountain" (the standout story from Close Range, and soon to be a major film), and other pieces are little more than whimsical sketches (sometimes with a touch of the magical), they paint a rich, colorful picture of local life.