Bad Dirt

Annie Proulx

Bad Dirt is filled with the vivid and willful characters for which Proulx has become known. Each occupies a community or landscape described in rich and robust language, with an eye for detail unparalleled in American fiction. In ‘The Contest’, the men of Elk Tooth, Wyoming, vow to put aside their razors for two seasons and wait to see who has the longest beard come the 4th of July. Deb Sipple, the moving protagonist of ‘That Trickle Down Effect’, finds that his opportunism – and his smoking habit – lead to a massive destruction. And ‘What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?’ is the story of Gilbert Wolfscale, whose rabid devotion to his ranch drives off his wife and sons. Proulx displays her wit in every story of this stunning collection, as well as her knowledge of the West, of history, of ranching and farming. Her profound sympathy for characters who must use sheer will and courage to make it in tough territory makes this collection extraordinarily compelling.

Reviews of Bad Dirt

  • Her images are so alert and novel she makes a world entirely her own…there are a number of stories here that show proulx at her marvellous best…There are great pleasures to be had from this collection…the greatest pleasure is the way she does it.’ Geraldine Bedell, Observer

    ‘Performs inspired imaginative feats’ Alex Clark, Sunday Times

    Proulx writes in wonderful stews, everything thrown in together…the stories demand a second reading.’ Daily Telegraph

    ‘Her keen eye for idiosyncrasy ensures her continuing reputation as one of the shrewdest chroniclers of contemporary America. David Robson, Sunday Telegraph

    The notion of a small settlement of people whose narratives, from the anecdotal to the archetypal, criss-cross like so many humming telegraph wires gives Proulx an elegant framework on which to hang these stories, whose sour sometimes brutal folksiness gains a singular resonance from the fine, sinewy prose in which they are rendered.’ Jane Shilling, The Times