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Posts Tagged ‘E. Annie Proulx’

I’m wondering if E. Annie Proulx is an acquired taste. She is unique among authors I’ve read for any number of reasons, perhaps most importantly … does she have a way with words!

I first met Ms. Proulx when I read The Shipping News, and found her style engrossing, challenging to read, and simply like no other. I most recently picked up her collection of short fiction, Heart Songs. She writes about people we average Americans rarely, if ever, see, in this case the longtime residents of rural New England, whose lives and lifestyles are coming into sharp collisions with wealthier newcomers embracing the “country life.” In this regard, reading about the people in these short stories was something akin to watching the movie Winter’s Bone, i.e., seeing for the first time how a segment of Americans live, people of whom we generally have no knowledge. It’s fascinating, sometimes disturbing and frightening, sometimes heartbreaking. Yet Proulx is not asking for pity or judgment for her characters. They are who they are; she is simply telling their stories.

But oh! her way with words … “Often his razor tongue stropped itself on the faults and flaws of his dead parents …”; “The corpse of a less-wise raven lay beneath a bush like a patch of melted tar. The fox rolled in the carcass, grinding his shoulders into it. He got up, shook himself and continued his tour, a black feather in the fur of his shoulder like a dart placed by a picador.“; ” … his face dark as a smoked ham, eyes like bird’s eyes, orange and inhuman.”

Whose writing could fail to be enlightened by an author whose use of words is so intense, lyrical, and magnificently descriptive. If, in each thing we read, we hope to not only gain from the enjoyment of the story itself but also some wonderful addition to our own skills as writers, then E. Annie Proulx’s Heart Songs speaks volumes on how to say what we mean. And how to say it with an incomparable richness.

 

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