January 03, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

That Old Ace In the Hole

Current Status
In Season
Annie Prouix, Annie Proulx
We gave it a B

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News comes a love letter to the Texas panhandle. Bob Dollar is a young Denver man sent by the Global Pork Rind corporation to buy up land for hog farms. He settles down in Woolybucket, makes friends with men like Rope Butt and Tater Crouch, and dines on son-of-a-bitch stew. Anyone who’s ever driven down Highway 15 can appreciate Proulx’s knowing affection for life in a dry dust-bowl county, where bathroom graffiti reads something like this: ”jesus is coming! (and in a different hand) We’ll get him agin.” Proulx does seem a bit drunk on her metaphors (”he was built like a gin bottle, with hard, square shoulders”) and is downright moony for the dialect. If only she was as concerned with her plot, rambling at best, as she was with honoring a dying way of life.

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