Jennifer Reese
September 12, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Fine Just the Way It Is

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Annie Proulx
publisher
Scribner
genre
Short Stories, Fiction

We gave it a B+

The third volume of Annie Proulx’s Wyoming Stories (after Close Range and Bad Dirt), Fine Just the Way It Is begins with ”Family Man,” the recollections of a sour old ranch hand moldering in a nursing home, and ends with the staggeringly grim ”Tits-Up in a Ditch,” the abbreviated biography of Dakotah Lister, a single mother and Army MP who returns home to her grandparents’ dismal ranch after her arm is shot off in Iraq. In between: harrowing, sometimes darkly funny accounts of early High Plains settlers, impoverished cowboys, doomed hikers, and desperately lonely frontier women. We rarely get the chance to read about people like this in contemporary fiction — you’ll never meet Proulx’s taciturn, wind-bitten characters in Brooklyn — and her tales of their largely unexamined lives are rich, unsentimental, and affecting. B+

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