by Annie Proulx
Proulx's second collection of Wyoming stories is a masterpiece. Like its predecessor, Close Range, it beautifully captures the harshness of Wyoming's landscape and the hard-as-nails ranchers who settled and work it. Proulx's language I sparkles as she describes her diverse and often eccentric characters, and laugh-aloud moments abound. "In Elk Tooth, everyone tries to be a character and with some success," Proulx writes in "Summer of the Hot Tubs." When the men of the town launch a beard-growing contest, Darryl Mutsch, attempting to stimulate growth, "rinsed his beard in a Viagra solution, immediate results not known." In "Florida Rental," bartender Amanda Gribb comes up with a truly inventive solution to her corporate neighbor's disrespect for her property rights. Proulx's knowledge of and reverence for her subject matter, delivered in taut, evocative prose, will leave readers longing for her next collection.