Wyoming Arts Council

Third WYO story collection from Annie Proulx

Under the headline “Collect All Three,” the latest issue of Outside Magazine features a review by Jon Billman of Annie Proulx’s new book, “Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3.” Billman is a former Wyomingite whose story collection, “When We Were Wolves,” included many Wyoming-based stories, some in Hams Fork, a thinly disguised Kemmerer. Last I heard, he lives in Iowa. Proulx lives near Saratoga.

He opens with the highest praise afforded story writers:

“Annie Proulx is the Flannery O’Connor of our age — well, a Western Flannery O’Connor, after three shots of Wild Turkey… Like O’Connor’s southern skidders, Proulx’s Wyomingites are larger-that-lowlifes. But now she taps new demographics as well — early man, demons from Hell, and even outdoor athletes, from doping Tour de France racers waiting their Stygian fate in the Afterlife to Wind River wilderness trekkers.”

Billman goes on to add that Proulx “is one of the funniest fiction writers working, and her quirky wit is all over this collection.”

Billman’s correct about Proulx’s dark humor. I’ve always liked that about her stories, although it’s sometimes hard to describe how that humor works. Possibly the juxtaposition of odd against odd, tragedy mixed with farce. And then there’s always the talking tractor.

“Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3” is published by Scribner and available at your favorite independent bookstore.

Wyoming connections: When he lived in Kemmerer, Billman won a 1998 Wyoming Arts Council creative writing fellowship. Both Billman and Proulx are featured in the Wyoming Center for the Book anthology “Deep West: A Literary Tour of Wyoming.” “Deep West” just went out of print, but you can find copies in those bookstores that promote WYO writers, such as Ralph’s in Casper and The Book Shop in Sheridan.

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