On Annie Proulx and ice hockey
I’m a couple of stories deep in Annie Proulx’s collection Close Range: Wyoming Stories. So far, I’ve found her prose utterly charmless, although I’m going to give her some more time since I enjoyed The Shipping News so much. This collection of stories has its share of adoring fans — except for Dan Schneider, which is not good news for Close Range. Despite all the characters’ fun names (Mero Corn, Tick Corn, Diamond Felts, Leecil Bewd, Dirt Sheets, Ice Dunmire, Horm Tinsley, Aladdin Touhey, Sutton Muddyman, Dig Yant, Car Scrope, Hulse Birch, and Wauneta Hipsag), Schneider has this to say of them:
None of the characters inspire affection, nor even any great emotion- not even disgust, and they blend too easily into each other. They are losers, angry, ignoble, squalid, bitter, and none too bright. All of them are fated to compassionless misery, by their fellow characters and Proulx, and this passes as ‘realism’ to a bevy of critics, even as few can seriously empathize with them. And because it’s set in a ‘rugged place’, a fact of which we are repeatedly hammered with, this is supposed to lend grandeur and mythos to the stories.