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How Diamond Felts ended up in the mud

A.O. Scott: Annie Proulx, 9 December 1999

Close Range: Wyoming Stories 
by Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £12, June 1999, 1 85702 942 9
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... E. Annie Proulx was 56 years old when her first novel, Postcards, was published in 1991. Since then, she has made up for lost time. The Shipping News appeared in 1993, and snatched up the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize and the Irish Times International Prize. These two novels (as well as Heart Songs, a collection of short stories published by a small press in the US in 1988 and by Fourth Estate in Britain in 1994) seemed to place Proulx in the broad tradition of American regional realism ...

How to make seal-flipper pie

Janette Turner Hospital, 10 February 1994

The Shipping News 
by E. Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 337 pp., £14.99, November 1993, 9781857022056
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... province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Cain is exactly the kind of character who interests Annie Proulx, and Cain’s home turf is the natural setting for her fiction. Cain more or less shows up, under the name of Loyal Blood, as the protagonist of her first novel Postcards. (Blood is a Vermont dairy farmer who accidentally kills his girlfriend ...

Vinegar Pie

William Skidelsky: Annie Proulx, 6 March 2003

That Old Ace in the Hole 
by Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 361 pp., £17.99, January 2003, 0 00 715151 9
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... flat land sticking out across the base of the Great Plains. This overlooked territory is where Annie Proulx sets her fourth novel, a determinedly eccentric comedy about a dreamy 25-year-old called Bob Dollar. When he was eight, Bob’s parents moved to Alaska, leaving him on the doorstep of his Uncle Tam’s ‘Used but Not Abused’ thrift store in ...

Chop and Burn

Adam Mars-Jones: Annie Proulx, 28 July 2016

by Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 717 pp., £18.99, June 2016, 978 0 00 723200 0
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... The ‘barkskins’​ of Annie Proulx’s huge and hugely unsatisfying novel should by rights be trees – things that have bark for skin – but she attaches the word to people who are involved with trees in whatever capacity, destructive or protective. She preserves a certain amount of ambiguity, just the same, delaying the word’s appearance in the text until after the 200-page mark (‘He invited the overwrought barkskins to a nearby tavern for a drink’) and spelling out its range of meanings in an area of the text that most readers can be relied on to skip, the bottom of the dedication page: ‘For barkskins of all kinds – loggers, ecologists, sawyers, sculptors, hotshots, planters, students, scientists, leaf eaters, photographers, practitioners of shinrin-yoku, land-sat interpreters, climatologists, wood butchers, picnickers, foresters, ring counters and the rest of us ...

On Marshy Ground

Fraser MacDonald: Fen, Bog and Swamp, 15 June 2023

Fen, Bog and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis 
by Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 196 pp., £16.99, September 2022, 978 0 00 853439 4
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... the GHG emissions. The problem of our peatlands, in other words, is in the food we eat.The key to Annie Proulx’s Fen, Bog and Swamp is the categorical distinction of its title. A fen, she tells us in the epigraph, is ‘a peat-forming wetland that is … fed by waters that have contact with mineral soils such as rivers and streams flowing in from ...

Dropping In for a While

Thomas Jones: Maile Meloy, 2 December 2010

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It 
by Maile Meloy.
Canongate, 219 pp., £7.99, 9781847674166
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... characters and their readers, forcing them to jump through too many hoops in too little time. Annie Proulx, for example, to whose Wyoming tales some of Meloy’s Montana stories bear a superficial resemblance, can take too much relish in whipping her characters down unlikely paths of misfortune and humiliation. (Pressganging them into happy endings ...


Iain Sinclair: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps, 21 May 2020

... of literature’, I had jumped at the opportunity to re-engage with Vaes on his own ground. ‘Annie Proulx was in your bed for two months,’ I was told. ‘She was researching shipbuilding and she wrote a lovely piece about what she could see from that window, when she worked at the big desk.’ When I walked the long corridor towards the bookshop ...

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