Saturday, February 4, 2012

From the pen of Annie Proulx

I’ve said it before, but I read a lot of short stories. It’s my primary method for exploring new authors. Between podcasts, stories people send my way, and the John R. Lyman Memorial Short Story Club, I probably take in a dozen or more stories every month. That’s a book-length pile of fiction, every month, that doesn’t end up in my regular reading tally.

But just because I don’t keep track of them doesn’t mean I shouldn’t share some of their better lines every now and again. So today on the free sample trey, I give you a smattering from Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News. The lines below come from her short story “What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?”. All emphasis is mine- the phrases that jumped off the page at me in bold.
"With his mother gone, civilization began to fall away from him like feathers from a molting hen. In a matter of weeks he was eating straight from the frying pan."

"A section of the high-school band straggled past, sweaty kids, many of them obese, their white marching trousers bunched at the crotch. He remembered schoolmates in his own childhood, skinny, quick ranch kids, no one fat and sweaty, Pete Kitchen looking like he was made of kindling wood and insulation wire, Willis McNitt small enough to shit behind a sagebrush and never be noticed."

"Behind the band came two teen-age boys dressed as Indians, breechclouts over swim trunks, a load of beads around their necks, black wigs with braids and feathers."

"They were followed by a stock outlaw and a sheriff’s posse, and behind them half the town’s women and small children in pioneer regalia—long calico dresses, aprons and sunbonnets, big Nikes flashing incongruously with every step."

"The sky was a hard cheerful blue, empty but for a few torn contrails. Plastic bags impaled on the barb fences flapped in the hot wind." 

"He got out, threw his chicken box at the trash can. Rod, too, tossed his crumpled box, but it hit the side of the can and sprayed chicken bones."

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