Book review of the day

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Today’s review comes from Wally Betts.

 

Close Range – Wyoming Stories

by Annie Proulx

The state of Wyoming is the 10th largest in the US, with a total area only slightly smaller than the whole of New Zealand, but a population about half that of the South Island. It’s a land of prairies – the High Plains – covering the eastern portion, and mountain ranges that form the eastern foothills of the Rockies (including the imaginatively named Grand Tetons Range – ‘Big Tits’ in French) covering the western two-thirds of the state.

The harsh, sometimes tragic, but mostly sombre lives of her characters (ranchers, rodeo cowboys, misfits, no-hopers, a social justice terrorist and even, in one tale, a derelict tractor that talks) are set against spectacular wide-screen windswept landscapes that are alternately arid or saturated.

Annie Proulx brings her characters and their motivations to life in detail throughout these concise and well-crafted stories. Relationships and families fall apart, crops and livestock fail, and the only luck floating around in these stories is of the bad variety. People who are outwardly virtuous commit dark deeds, ordinary people endure hardship and struggle for years without buckling under, but no-hopers remain no-hopers whatever the circumstances.


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