Sunday, October 21, 2007

Heart Songs and Other Stories by Annie Proulx

Heart Songs is Ms Proulx's first collection of stories, and it is a lot different from her later two, Wyoming Stories and Bad Dirt. She has set these stories in Vermont, rather than the western ranches and plains of the later collections. In a brief documentary on Ovation, she recounted the travels and research she undertook to write her most recent novel, That Old Ace in the Hole. At the end, she said she would not write another novel, because she much preferred writing short stories. I love her novels (Ace, The Shipping News, Accordion Crimes and Postcards), but her stories are wonderful, solid nuggets of artistic prose with the most careful attention to even the smallest details.
Like the stories set in Wyoming, these stories are concerned with nature and how people grow up, in, around, and with the rural settings she skillfully describes. Her prose is lyrical, poetic, and brimming with wonderful images. These stories differ from the Wyoming ones, because she does not strain to catch the slightest nuances of speech she captures in Wyoming. These New Englanders could be in any rural area of the US.
I could only hope to be a paltry imitator of her. If you have not read Annie Proulx, run out and get something of hers today. Five stars.
--Chiron, 10/21/2007

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