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.
Stories in Close Range have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and GQ. They have been selected for the O. Henry Stories 1998 and The Best American Short Stories of the Century and have won the National Magazine Award for Fiction. This is work by an author writing at the peak of her craft.
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Reading Group Guide
Annie Proulx, the critically acclaimed winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, is one of the most intensely original and authentic voices in American fiction. Her writing examines the lives of rural North Americans in the contexts of time and place, asking how these forces order human lives and behavior. Her latest collection of short fiction, Close Range: Wyoming Stories presents eleven unforgettable stories of isolation, violence, and redemption in the high plains country of Wyoming. It is an unsentimental look at the ranchers, bull riders, cowboys, women and small-town business people who survive in this tough place.
The epigraph to the collection is a key to the stories: "Reality's never been of much use out here." The stories are laced with threads of the magical, the impossible, the folk tale. How does this dismissal of reality relate to the American myth of the west? In what ways does fantasy shape our lives and culture?
Questions for discussion:
The Half Skinned Steer
1.) In the story told by Mero's old man's girlfriend, the half-skinned steer becomes a terrible fate Tin Head knows he can't escape. What is Mero's half-skinned steer? How was he marked by it and by his Wyoming origins? What is the nature of Mero's journey?
The Mud Below
2.) What drives Diamond, raised in town and meant for better th see more