Fine Just the Way it Is by Annie Proulx
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've been to Wyoming. Once. It was late spring. I crossed the northern part of the state from the Black Hills to Yellowstone, then climbed down the spine of the Tetons to Colorado. It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen: lush and green, bursting with wildlife, hot springs, and geysers. The worst thing I can say about Wyoming is that I've never been back...
...save through the writing of Annie Proulx. She's been to Wyoming, too, and she's been there a long time. And her time in Wyoming wasn't just a verdant two weeks in spring. And her writing captures with stark realism a Wyoming that isn't just smiling hotel clerks, and dude-ranch cowboys. And yet there is real beauty hidden throughout this book--beauty that one finds in no other American place.
For example, the spectacular scenery of Catlin's hike in "Testimony of the Donkey": hidden lakes, decades-old signatures on the rocks, a splendid scene, all for one dangerous element. I loved the fairy-tale feel of "The Sagebrush Kid" and the interweaving of various histories of the West into the tales.
I completely skipped the two stories about the Devil, though. And while Proulx's prose is often praised, I tried to read "The Sagebrush Kid" out loud to my wife, and found myself tongue tied and stammering.
Still, the book is a pleasant return to a wonderfully beautiful, haunted place: Wyoming.
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