Annie Proulx - Fine Just the Way It Is (5 stars)

Annie Proulx - Fine Just the Way It Is

Annie Proulx - Fine Just the Way It Is (Fourth Estate)

Fine Just the Way It Is marks Annie Proulx's return to Wyoming, the setting of two previous collections of short stories. The cast is, at once, familiar and fantastic. The devil refurbishes hell, adding to the décor centuries of portraits by mortals; frisky female residents of a nursing home vie for 'the favors of palsied men with beef jerky arms'; ranch hands and their families suffer hardship beyond endurance; and, bereft of children, a woman nurtures sagebrush.

Proulx's writing is exhilarating and unflagging in its brilliance. A mistress of chronicling the everyday, she transforms its mundanity into something that startles, unsettles and enchants. Though their setting is frequently bleak and tragic, the stories are also relaxing because they are faultless. There is beauty, cruelty, absurdity and humour in her tales, all presented with Proulx's characteristic lack of hyperbole and with the confidence that befits a storyteller of the highest calibre.

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