22 October, 2006

My Heroes (20) E. Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx (pronounced 'Proo') is a writer of wonderful fiction. Her densely written, observational style is packed with lots of detail and a very strong sense of place, such as the unfashionable parts of Newfoundland, Wyoming and Texas. Her descriptive writing always reminds me of John Steinbeck's work due to her obvious affection for the places and kinds of people who are not usually the heroes of modern fiction. She has a Dickensian knack of naming her characters in an outlandish way that very soon seems to be perfectly natural.
For example “That Old Ace in The Hole” (2002) features, among others, Jerky Baum, Pecan Flagg, Blowy Cluck, Coolbroth Fronk, and Waldo Beautyrooms. It’s the story of Bob Dollar, hired by Global Pork Rind to buy up small farms, in the Texas panhandle town of Woolybucket, so that they can be turned into hog farms under the guise of buying land for luxury housing. The book touches on the larger issue of pollution and depletion of the water table as a background. The story is fairly thin on plot but rich in character and anecdote.
“Accordion Crimes” (1996) lovingly tells the story of a succession of owners of an accordion. Annie Proulx is a dispassionate observer of life but she does not shy away from unpleasant scenes and can be brutally honest in her depiction of those who are the losers in life’s lottery.
“The Shipping News” (1993) is a magnificent novel that demands a lot from the reader, whose attentiveness will be richly rewarded. At the start of each chapter a picture of a different type of knot is shown and this turns out to have a metaphorical reference to the content of that chapter. It was turned into a successful movie with Kevin Spacey in 2001. In a similar way “Postcards”(1992) showed a drawing of a postcard at the start of each chapter with a message that was sometimes directly relevant to the story and sometimes just added background colour. In 1997 she wrote a short story which was published in a collection of her work called "Close Range: Wyoming Stories" (1999) which was filmed in 2005. That was the very successful "Brokeback Mountain", in which she typically tackled a subject that had hitherto been taboo in mainstream literature.

17 Comments:

Blogger Rob said...

She is new to me. Thanks for the information...no doubt I will come across her again at some point.

Monday, October 23, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hog farms in Texas, and I guess everywhere, carry a stigma similar to nuclear waste dumps, only worse. Rumors of pending pig farm plans can send land prices tumbling, especially those in the path of prevailing winds. The stink of a corporate cattle feedlot is a bed of roses compared with the rank stench of a thousand hogs. It carries for miles and is the only animal aroma that can make me retch. It sounds like a great setting for book.

Monday, October 23, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

rob: If you would like to try her fiction 'That Old Ace in The Hole' is a good introduction.

slaghammer: Thanks for taht background info. It was a big feature of the book. The guy trying to buy up land finally developed a conscience about what he was doing. It's a good read.

Monday, October 23, 2006  
Blogger jim said...

Very interesting, post and comments Bazza, never heard of her until I saw the end of your post, the movie, huh, she wrote the book, most remarkable, I am impressed by her for daring. Admirable! And her names, like you say, make me want more, just this glimpse and sample. If I find time I will get that book, most interesting and great reference Bazza, being you, I will try and it would be the first in a long long time. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006  
Blogger Yves said...

Thanks for pointing out this author. I read The Shipping News and loved it. Was cautious about the movie because with her help I had imagined the scenes very vividly. But miraculously the film fitted the imagined scenes extremely well.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely love Annie Proulx but never knew how to pronounce her name. I had always sounded the "l," so thanks bazza-my-friend. I'm reading Postcards right now. The names kill me. By the way, I wonder if Lonesome Cowboy read the Texas saga. Or maybe that's where he's from, too?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006  
Blogger Mimi Lenox said...

I don't know her work but your post makes me want to read her. Interesting lady. Great post.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

jim: Thanks for that kind response Jim. I hope you get a chance to read her, it's addictive stuff.

yyes: Hi. If you liked 'The Shipping News' you will like all of her work I think! I agree about the film of 'Brokeback Mountain'.

gem: I'll have to have a word with lonesome and see what he's got to say for himself! Have you noticed how the outlandish names begin to seem normal after a while?

mimi: I'm sure you'll enjoy her work Mimi. She's worth seeking out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

PS- She didn't get published until she was in her fifties!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing her to me. I would surely try to get hold one of her works as soon as possible.

Friday, October 27, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

indianboy: Hi, thanks for looking in. I hope you do find some of her books, she is worth checking out, in my opinion. I saw from your profile that you liked 'The God of Small things' which I really enjoyed. I have not been able to find any other books by Arundhati Roy; do you know if she wrote any others?

Friday, October 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Brokeback. Her writing was just... amazing.

Hey. Saw your site around, and I gotta say… I love! I’m so linking it.

Emma.

Friday, October 27, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

emma: Hi, I just took a long look at your blog and I have to say that I think it’s great. I am desperately trying not to sound condescending here but for a sixteen year-old I think you show a lot of style, humour and character. Also intellect, knowledge and wisdom – I had better stop there before I turn your head! We could not be from more diverse backgrounds; me, a middle-aged Jewish male and you a very young Anglo-Chinese girl. However what we do have in common (apart from the experience of being Londoners) is a lot of similar favourites in our book, music and film choice. I am a big fan of Gabriel Marcia Marquez as you obviously are. By the way, your description of yourself in your blogging profile really made me laugh. I say, go for it! And thanks for the link: I will certainly be reciprocating!

Saturday, October 28, 2006  
Blogger Polly said...

I loved "The Shipping News" long before it was made into a film. That's the only Proux book I have read, though, so it looks like I have some catching up to do!

Thanks
Polly

Thursday, November 02, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

Hello Polly Thanks for looking in. If you enjoyed 'The Shipping News' I am sure you will like most of her work. Perhaps 'That Old Ace in the Hole' or 'Accordion Crimes' would be a suitable follow-up.

Thursday, November 02, 2006  
Blogger bazza said...

My new blog, To Discover Ice, is at: http://todiscoverice.blogspot.com/ See you there!
Bazza

Thursday, August 12, 2010  
Blogger bazza said...

My new blog, To Discover Ice, is at: http://todiscoverice.blogspot.com/ See you there!
Bazza

Thursday, August 12, 2010  

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