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Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 Hardcover – 9 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ome; First Edition edition (9 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781416571667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416571667
  • ASIN: 1416571663
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,790,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Annie Proulx's The Shipping News won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Award for Fiction, and the Irish Times International Fiction Prize. She is the author of two other novels: Postcards, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Accordion Crimes. She has also written two collections of short stories, Heart Songs and Other Stories and Close Range. In 2001, The Shipping News was made into a major motion picture. Annie Proulx lives in Wyoming and Newfoundland.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Murphy VINE VOICE on 28 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover
In Annie Proulx's latest collection of Wyoming short stories, "Fine Just The Way It Is", three 'Wyoming specials' - drawing on early pioneering struggles (Them Old Cowboy Songs), hardship spanning the Great Depression years (The Great Divide) and life in present-day Wyoming (Tits Up In A Ditch) - open a window into the lives of Wyoming people, past and present. Three strong stories of hardscrabble lives lived out in the American West! Add two other modern well-told stories "Family Man" and "Testimony of the Donkey" plus the entertaining "The Sagebrush Kid", a tale of Bermuda Triangle style mysterious vanishings, transplanted to the Wyoming plains - six stories in all stamped with the Proulx 'Wyoming' trademark. Two further stories are set in Hell - more on that later!

Some of Annie Proulx's best Wyoming short stories, Brokeback Mountain for instance, from the collection "Close Range", step out of the landscape, grow out of the land beneath her characters' feet. Proulx's powerful descriptions capturing Wyoming's harsh landscape are brilliantly done, with Wyoming's bleak, forbidding landscape of vast windswept plains or rugged mountains often as powerful a player as any character in a story - clearly exemplified here by "Testimony of the Donkey", a contemporary story set against the stark, scenic grandeur of Wyoming's mountainous terrain where the landscape all but becomes a character.

"Them Old Cowboy Songs", a sad story story that flows out of the vast Wyoming prairie landscape of the 1880's, records the devastating pioneering experience of young newly-weds in their remote homestead, confronted by poverty, isolation and a cruel landscape.
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By Yorda Smile on 7 Mar. 2013
Format: Audio CD
This audio book - "Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3" - was a discovery and a revelation. My family and I commute a lot and we formed the habit to listen to audio books the last several years. This particular book we took by chance, just to try some short stories instead of our usual novels. What a lucky strike.

The author, Annie Proulx, has a style of a telegraphic storyteller. It is like you are reading old local newspaper - who was born, who died. On the surface of it there are no strong feelings or flame emotions. But you are slowly sucked into this folklores universe of Wyoming and there is no escape. You start to Understand (the capital letter is no mistake) what life is like there. And under the calm surface there is a scary ocean of love, hurt and pain, so deep that its scares itself and tries to lay low. Around the middle of the audio book the listener starts to re-evaluate the situation of "Ah, very good that I took this audio book from the bookshelf, it's actually good" to "How on Earth did I miss this before?" The characters in all the stories are so different and yet so similar. They usually pull the shortest straw in life, but never complained about that. Many of them died, but without the usual unbearable emotions that other authors spill on the reader/listener. And yet, in the end of each story it is hard to swallow and you are wondering why you want to prevent yourself from crying, if there are no tears in the eyes...

The narrator, William Hope, is a well known actor, whom when we took the audio book we did not recognise on the cover. Maybe he purposefully uploaded there a picture that misleads. We were wondering how it is possible for the narrator not just to read, but to actually play all the different characters.
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Format: Hardcover
Annie Proulx never fails to unearth tales of Wyoming which capture the imagination. Her wit is as dry as the praire dust in summer, her characters often as bleak and cold as a mountain winter and her breadth of imagery as sweeping as the vast landscapes which act as the backdrop to her stories. The unrelenting hardship and often seeming hopeless circumstances of her cast of characters are always complementary to the land which has shaped them. Can anyone in a short story takes us through the early Indian wars in Wyoming to the Iraq conflict of the late C20 with such a compelling plot and hardbitten characters that "live and breathe" on every page. Amidst all the desolation and misery of geography, characters and their lives, one never becomes disheartened nor depressed whilst reading of their travails. In this instance the portrayals of the devil and his sulphurous scheming certainly alleviate the mood and serve to showcase the humour Proulx so cleverly but understatedly threads through much of her stories. My only quibble? When will Annie write another full length novel? Her short story telling is magnificent but by definition is over too quickly. However I will always happily settle for whatever she puts before me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 54 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
"Who needs Hell when you've got Wyoming?" 29 Sept. 2008
By Michael Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Annie Proulx's trilogy of Wyoming short stories "Close Range", "Bad Dirt" and now "Fine Just The Way It Is" is about a landscape and its people. In the latest collection, three strong Proulx 'Wyoming specials' - drawing on early pioneering struggles (Them Old Cowboy Songs), hardship spanning the Great Depression years (The Great Divide) and life in present-day Wyoming (Tits Up In A Ditch) - open a window into the lives of Wyoming people, past and present. To these three stories of hardscrabble lives lived out in the American West add two other modern well-told stories, "Testimony of the Donkey" and "Family Man", plus the entertaining "The Sagebrush Kid", a story of mysterious vanishings Bermuda Triangle style, transplanted to the Wyoming plains : six stories in all firmly stamped with the Proulx 'Wyoming' trademark. Two further stories are set in Hell - more on that later!

Some of Annie Proulx's best Wyoming short stories, "Brokeback Mountain" for instance, from the collection "Close Range", flow out of the landscape. Proulx's power of conveying landscape is exemplary, with Wyoming's bleak, forbidding landscape of vast windswept plains or rugged mountains often as powerful a player as any character in a story - clearly exemplified here by "Testimony of the Donkey", a contemporary story set against the stark, scenic grandeur of Wyoming's mountainous terrain where the landscape all but becomes a character.

"Them Old Cowboy Songs", a sad story stepping out of the vast Wyoming prairie landscape of the 1880's, records the devastating pioneering experience of two young newly-weds in their remote homestead, confronted by poverty, isolation and a cruel landscape. Annie Proulx doesn't do 'sentimental' : what she does do in her distinctive unsparing prose is stark reality treatment of the West, uncompromising portraits of Wyoming folk hard-pressed to scrape to-gether a living faced with the grinding challenges of a hardscrabble prairie existence. Some homesteaders toughed it out through the hard times but others, desperate, defeated and disappointed, struggled on in vain, had "short runs" - and lost, their hopes of living the frontier dream swept away.

When I pick up a Proulx short story, I expect Wyoming, not Hell - unless it's the special brand of Wyoming hell reserved for Dakotah Lister in the memorable contemporary story, "Tits Up In A Ditch". Joining the Army promises respite for the young recruit from a life at home full of setbacks where it seemed everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Discharged from military service in Iraq, Dakotah returns home to Wyoming to the realisation that her past sufferings - at home and in Iraq - may pale in comparison with what her future holds in store..... Another modern story, "Family Man", recounts the recollections of old, 80+ ranch-hand Ray Forkenbrock, seeing out his days in a nursing home. But something weighing heavily on his mind rankles Ray : dirty laundry - an ugly family secret of an "old betrayal" he's kept bottled up inside himself for years.....

As well as the strange, inexplicable disappearances of man and beast recounted in "The Sagebrush Kid", the different time-frames present in the story give a strong sense of the wheels of history turning as the winds of change swept through Wyoming - the stagecoach business consigned to history by the Union Pacific Railroad pushing through, old stage roads swallowed up in time by interstate highway, huge chunks of prairie vanishing under the drills of oil and gas exploration. A tall tale that gives pause for thought about how the west has changed.

What a helluva shock to discover two stories, comic interludes really, are set in Hell - yes HELL! Outwith the bounds of Wyoming altogether! OUTSIDERS! Trespassers from Hell wandering like stray mavericks into country where they don't rightfully belong - and looking oddly out of place among prime stock. Range wars have broken out for less! Long-time followers of Annie Proulx's topnotch Wyoming stories, past and present, may view the stories from Hell as being out of kilter - interlopers into 'settled territory' that was fine just the way it was. After all, "who needs Hell when you've got Wyoming?"
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Every Bit As Exquisitely Written And Enjoyable As Past Works - But Different 21 Nov. 2008
By Scott William Foley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Annie Proulx continues her mastery of the short story.

In Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3, Proulx once again gives us stories primarily taking place in or associated with Wyoming. Her characters are terribly human--warts and all--and her stories are typically blunt, to the point, and full of (sometimes brief) life.

But, as straightforward as her stories are with their plainspoken characters, Proulx also delivers stunningly beautiful narrative language when detailing landscapes, flora, and animal life. Some of her imagery literally astounded me it was so well crafted and provocative.

However, unlike previous Wyoming volumes, this addition to the series is far more brutal to its characters. Now Proulx has never occurred to me as a woman who gets overly sentimental about her creations, but I was surprised at the tragedies she forced her men and women to endure. That being said, she certainly did not cross the line into sensationalism; everything she threw at her characters was well within reality's parameters.

Well, for the most part.

I was especially happy that in three stories in particular, Proulx exits her normally grounded repertoire and gives us something bordering fantasy. Now, because it's Proulx, we're not talking Tolkien here, but two of her stories hilariously focus on the devil and the other, well, I don't want to spoil anything, but it features a sagebrush where mysterious disappearances persist. I think that with her particular style and sensibilities, calling them tall tales may be more appropriate than fantasy.

Consequently, I sensed a real sense of dark humor in these stories, and I loved it! While most of the stories were very serious in terms of subject matter, they all utilized a morose fun that--unless happening to us--demanded a chuckle or two.

All in all, this collection was a bit of a break from Proulx in terms of style, especially when read between the lines, but every bit as exquisitely written and enjoyable as past works.

Proulx's talent is unrelenting with each new work she releases.

~Scott William Foley, author of The Imagination's Provocation: Volume II
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Tales from the American West 14 Sept. 2008
By Rob Jacques - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you read all of Annie Proulx's Wyoming stories ("Close Range," "Bad Dirt," and "Fine Just the Way It Is"), you'll understand a lot about Dick Cheney. Yes, yes, I know Cheney was born in Nebraska, but he was raised in Wyoming and is a living, breathing character right out of Proulx's gut-wrenching, gut-spilling, gut-shot tales of that proud and brutally beautiful state.

Proulx has a gift for the memorable image, for turning description and setting into action and plot. Her clear, sparse prose crackles with isolation, mistrust, and treachery of a once-civilized people gone feral, and her Wyoming is both magnificent and malevolent. She makes you wish you'd been raised in the midst of her characters just for the sheer blood and joy of it, and then just as glad you weren't.

"Fine Just the Way It Is" (a line one of her characters uses to describe Wyoming) even has two stories about the Devil and his vast plans for redecorating Hell, and you'll get the feeling the Devil would do well as a Wyoming rancher or small-town businessman. Even as the Devil raises his eyes lovingly to take in Hell's colossal landscape, you see Wyoming's rugged, isolating, gorgeous terrain of sharp peaks, red cliffs, and vast, haunting prairie. Bottom line on "Fine Just the Way It Is": only O. E. Rolvaag's brilliant "Giants in the Earth" captures a people and a place so exactly, so palpably. And Proulx saves her best story for last: "Tits-Up in a Ditch," a no-nonsense tale of the soul-abrading, body-maiming life of a young woman in Wyoming. It ought to be anthologized in every high-school literature collection.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
End of the affair . . . 4 Nov. 2008
By Ronald Scheer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is a mishmash of different story styles, and not all of them as successful as the author's trademark accounts of life in the American West (past and present). There are three good examples of that genre here, and they surely must mark the end of her affair with Wyoming. Her usual grimly comic vision, still harboring a bit of romance for far-flung places and people living on the margins, has gone "tits up in a ditch" in this third collection of her western stories.

What might have been tragic ironies that resonate in the heart, as we find them in "Brokeback Mountain," have now evolved into outright despair. Moments of joy are so fleeting they barely have a chance to live and breathe before they die in the face of bad luck and life's cruelties. It would be hard to find anywhere a portrayal of life on the frontier (then and now) that attempts more openly to reduce the myth of pioneer spirit to a living nightmare. Reading this book I was reminded of the Richard Avedon photos of the people of the West, beaten down and ravaged, barely hanging on to their dignity. This is an American West rarely found in fiction since Dorothy Scarborough's "The Wind." Not recommended for anybody whose heroes have always been cowboys.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
not quite at the close range/bad dirt level 8 Sept. 2008
By David W. Straight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Proulx' Close Range and Bad Dirt are both solid 5-star works. Not all the stories rate 5 stars, but most do, and the rest almost all get 4 stars. Some of the stories, such as Brokeback Mountain and Wamsutter Wolf, will leave deep and lasting impressions--much like Conrad's novella The Duel. In Fine Just the Way It Is, there are some very memorable pieces, but the proportion of 5-star stories is less than in those other two books. As with Bad Dirt, some of the stories are whimsical/fantasy, some are humorous, some are serious. You won't see the Elk City bars, you won't see Warden Zmundzinski (which is too bad!).

For me, the best--and strangest (at the end you'll pause to think over what you've just read)--is the Sagebrush Kid, about a large and sometimes decorated sagebrush bush in a remote area of the state. Nearby people and animals have the habit of disappearing--as the story notes, a small Bermuda Triangle in Wyoming. Family man (the lead story) is more your traditional Proulx excellent writing--about an old cowboy in a nursing home with a family secret to reveal to his granddaughter. It's a wonderful bleak view of the hard Wyoming life, where death comes in many forms: the cowboy regrets not having frozen to death on the range rather than waste away in the nursing home. One of the stories (saying which might be a spoiler) reminded me of Peter Stark's chilling "Last Breath" about different ways to die (or come very close to it) in nature--such as dehydration, freezing, being stung by box jellyfish, etc.

Overall, then, of the 9 stories here, I'd give a solid 5 stars to 3, and probably lesser ratings to the others. The others are good, but those three in particular make this book worthwhile.
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