Close Range

Annie Proulx

sometimes i don’t know if it’s that the stories get better as they come or if it just takes a few to get into the general feel. having been in wyoming last year, it’s nice to have a sense of how attuned the descriptions of scenery and atmosphere are in this collection. the longer stories are easy favorites: “Pair of Spurs” falls open in well-measured time; “Brokeback Mountain” is just heartbreaking, two tough cowboys in love and trying to make sense of it.

The country appeared as empty ground, big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, intricate sky, flocks of small birds like packs of cards thrown up in the air, and a faint track drifting toward the red-walled horizon. Graves were unmarked, fallen house timbers and corrals burned up in old campfires. Nothing much but weather and distance, the distance punctuated once in a while by ranch gates, and to the north the endless murmur and sun-flash of semis rolling along the interstate.