Annie Proulx continues her mastery of the short story.
In Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3, Proulx once again gives us stories primarily taking place in or associated with Wyoming. Her characters are terribly human-warts and all-and her stories are typically blunt, to the point, and full of (sometimes brief) life.
But, as straightforward as her stories are with their plainspoken characters, Proulx also delivers stunningly beautiful narrative language when detailing landscapes, flora, and animal life. Some of her imagery literally astounded me it was so well crafted and provocative.
However, unlike previous Wyoming volumes, this addition to the series is far more brutal to its characters. Now Proulx has never occurred to me as a woman who gets overly sentimental about her creations, but I was surprised at the tragedies she forced her men and women to endure. That being said, she certainly did not cross the line into sensationalism; everything she threw at her characters was well within reality’s parameters.
Well, for the most part.
I was especially happy that in three stories in particular, Proulx exits her normally grounded repertoire and gives us something bordering fantasy. Now, because it’s Proulx, we’re not talking Tolkien here, but two of her stories hilariously focus on the devil and the other, well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but it features a sagebrush where mysterious disappearances persist. I think that with her particular style and sensibilities, calling them tall tales may be more appropriate than fantasy.
Consequently, I sensed a real sense of dark humor in these stories, and I loved it! While most of the stories were very serious in terms of subject matter, they all utilized a morose fun that-unless happening to us-demanded a chuckle or two.
All in all, this collection was a bit of a break from Proulx in terms of style, especially when read between the lines, but every bit as exquisitely written and enjoyable as past works.
Proulx’s talent is unrelenting with each new work she releases.