Beattie, like in so much of her earlier work, leaves a lot to the imagination. Between the dialogue and the action, certain assumptions, even leaps of faith, are sometimes necessary to get from one paragraph to the next. There are better ways to render suspense—less does not always mean more—but you get the sense from the very first sentence that something important is about to be revealed.
The Bigness of the World, Ostlund’s first collection of short stories, was good enough for the judges of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She won the prize in 2008. Deservedly so, for Ostlund has an ear, an appendage often ignored by writers in favor of the flashier eye. Alive to the subtext of the everyday, she uses flat conversations as a front for complicated back-stories…
Things are never fine just they way they are in Annie Proulx’s new collection of Wyoming stories. Women imperil themselves on mountains, animals go tits-up in ditches, young and old end up blighted or dead. Even the Devil can’t quite seem to make things work. Life is tough, Proulx says, and I ain’t peddling corn syrup.
Rare in our time, the writing in THE CAPE MAY STORIES is superb, even magical in its clear-sighted modesty of style, one that implicitly offers in plenitude, examples of decency. A surprising, and exhilarating, visit to Cape May awaits readers.
Flash fiction, or the “smoke-long story,” or the “skinny story,” as it is sometimes called in China, is short, true. But as anyone who has tried to write a thank you card knows, brevity ain’t easy. Nor is it truly fair to view this book as a kind of primer on all thoughts Chinese. After all, one doesn’t expect E. Annie Proulx’s work to bear much relation to T.C. Boyle’s, despite the shared vocabulary.
If you meet a quiet, rugged kind of a fella with an almost superhuman knowledge of tracking, botany, and the lawful ways of the West, don’t challenge him in a gunfight. You’ll lose. Keep an eye out for smooth-talking, rich, and handsome men. They’re not to be trusted and they never end tidily. But a trim girl with smiling eyes who knows how to ride a horse, be she a reformed prostitute or a rancher’s daughter…well, expect to see her settling down any day now.
You know how sometimes you’ll be having dinner with a woman and then, as the sun goes down, she’ll turn into a heavy, hairy man?