D J Taylor

Old Stench of Death

Close Range

By

Fourth Estate 285pp £10 order from our bookshop

About a third of the way into Annie Proulx’s (the ‘E’ has gone, like so many of her characters, off over the horizon someplace) mesmerising collection of stories, eyebrows raised in the wake of some horrific tragedy or other, I started keeping a note of the variety of violent or otherwise ghastly deaths to be found. The list ran down to the foot of the page: a rancher drowned in his own blood; an end-of-tether multiple shooting; a woman catapulted from her horse as she tries to lasso a venturesome wolf. And, oddly enough, this is only the ‘A’ list, ignoring the riot of incidental cancers, car accidents and mysterious sign-offs, such as that of the brother of one protagonist, who ‘died in some terrible and private way in the bathroom where their mother found him’. If you emerge from Close Range with a single impression of the North American flatlands, it is that the air must be permanently filled with the sound of wailing sirens.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Who is Bibi, and why does he simultaneously arouse such admiration and antagonism?' A review of the newest biograp… ,
    • RT : Joseph Brodsky had a story about about one marathon Fidel Castro speech that was so tedious and repetitive it spark… ,
    • Here's reviewing Rachel Kushner's novel about a woman caught in the injustice of the US prison system,… ,
    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,