This is a collection of short stories. The first, Family Man, explores the relationships between an elderly man and his past, which is in direct conflict with his present, detached family. The second, called I’ve Always Loved This Place, is a witty story that follows the devil as he makes his rounds through the layers of hell, making plans to redecorate. Next we have Them Old Cowboy Songs, a telling of a young family living in poverty; the husband working through incredibly harsh conditions and the wife, alone often, and pregnant. Then we have The Sagebrush Kid, a story of a couple that took care of a plant as though it was their child. As the sagebrush grows, it becomes eerily evident that it has a mind of its own. This accounts for only the first half of the collection, but this is all that I’ve read so far.
Why haven’t I finished reading this book, you ask? Because it’s extremely depressing. I was uninterested in the first two stories, but when I read Them Old Cowboy Songs, I perked up a little. Here, there’s some great character development and I cared for these characters… but the story has a desolate view on survival and its general theme is hopelessness. So if you read it, don’t get too attached to anyone. I understand the point of the story: life is not fair, some make it and some don’t, and still the world moves on. But I felt like its only purpose was to make me sad, not to entertain or enlighten. Still, I soldiered on through The Sagebrush Kid, which was a creepy story but that’s about all that can be said about it. Then I decided to take a break.
Because this book will continue sitting on my shelf, I know I’ll pick it up again eventually. But do I recommend Annie Proulx to the average reader? Not really. However, I’ve heard good things about Brokeback Mountain— though I wasn’t overly impressed with the movie. And The Shipping News was recommended to me by a fellow student in college. But when I was browsing the bookstore shelves, I couldn’t find it and found this collection instead. Fate? Probably not.
- Teaser Tuesday: Annie Proulx’s “Them Old Cowboy Songs” (lexisjen.wordpress.com)