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
~ Review ~
The best part of the book as far as the stories go was Brokeback Mountain. A movie was made from that story and it won 3 Oscars. I never saw the movie so I can’t give a review on the differences between the two though. This story walks the reader through a relationship between two cowboys that last years. While written with a slow western pace it shows how these two love each other through the years and opens the readers heart to their love for each other and their families.
As for the other stories, I understand that there are many people in the world that love this type of writing and I am afraid to say it is not me. I love to read for pleasure and to escape reality. This book is written in a harsh, blunt, no nonsense style. It was for me too brutal and depressing regarding how women and family were treated.
The narrators were great but hearing it instead of reading it made it much worse for me because it was so much more vivid. I know the old days were very rough but yikes this was so graphic it had me cringing.
For all you people out there that like this kind of reading I am sure you would rate it much higher than I did.
So will you give this a try and form your own decision?
C.H. (Cathie) Armstrong is 1992 graduate of the University of Oklahoma and is the author of THE EDGE OF NOWHERE (Penner, 2016), ROAM (Central Avenue, Feb. 5, 2019) and co-author of DÉJÀ YOU: STORIES OF SECOND CHANCES. She is represented by Tina P. Schwartz at The Purcell Agency, LLC.
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