Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Cowboys and Grit

I read a lot of books for two help me escape and to inspire me as a writer. I am just getting to the last few short stories in the book Close Range by Annie Proulx and I have never felt more motivated to hone my writing skills. Her writing is brilliance.

Close Range is a compilation of short stories written about Wyoming, the tough gritty state that seems far removed from many of us, especially those of us who are city dwellers. She describes a place that is all at once wide and open, yet small enough that people constantly intersect one another. The center of her stories is the cowboy. Her words are not only picture-painting, but also melodic. Taking a cue from a writing professor I had in the past, I read some of her work aloud and it was like honey dripping from my tongue. She chose words so perfectly that sentences were more than just a string syllables, they were short symphonies. I told a friend earlier today that her writing was so delectable, I wanted to lick the pages just to savor them a bit more.

I am looking forward to the last story in this collection because it is the famed "Brokeback Mountain." I want to see the poetic prose that inspired such an emotional and powerful movie. Some of my favorite stories in this book are: "The Mud Below" and "The Bunchgrass Edge of the World." Both have characters that are endearing, instantly gained my sympathy and attention. The story, "The Blood Bay" is only a couple of pages, but is written as urban legend, as if passed down from cowboy to cowboy when told around a campfire.

I will definitely be reading more of her books. Proulx has a second volume of Wyoming stories that I plan on checking out from the library and a friend has recommended The Shipping News.

The next book on my list is a compilation of nonfiction stories written about Thailand. We are considering going in the Spring and I find that the observations and tidbits discovered by travel writers can give the true flavor of a place. I am looking forward to exploring the exotic in the book's pages.

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