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Week 4

Annie Proulx Postcards (1992)

Please come prepared to give a five-ten minute introduction to Postcards. You might want to think about the following topics and/or draw on the theoretical readings for this section of the module:

  • An alternative version of the American Dream
  • Why is this such a "dark" novel?
  • In what ways can we read this as a revisonist, historical novel?
  • Analyse Proulx's style and narrative technique and consider how it contributes to the powerful effect of this novel on the reader.
  • Identify one example of her use of "stacked" or "piled up" metaphors.
  • Consider her use of figurative tropes such as the Bear,  the Indian's Book and "the fulgurite shaped like a bone."
  • Compare Postcards & The Great Gatsby: what do they have in common, how do they differ from one another?


Further Reading

I highly recommend: Mark Asquith. Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain and Postcards. London: Continuum, 2009.  You will find a useful introduction to Proulx's writing career, and good discussion of the novel, and an excellent "Further Reading and Discussion Questions" section.  I would encourage you to look at this in preparation for the seminar if you can.

Asquith draws attention to a a particularly hostile article in Atlantic Monthly by B.R. Myers, in which the prose styles of Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy and Don DeLillo are all criticised.  You might want to take a look at it and decide whether you agree with Myers or not; and if not, can you mount a defence? 

  • See: B. R. Myers.” A Reader’s Manifesto: an attack on the growing pretentiousness of American literary prose.”  July/August 2001:  Accessed 27/10/2010.

A more insightful resource is Katie Bolick's Atlantic Monthly (Atlantic Unbound) 1997 interview.

  • See: Katie Bolick & E. Annie Proulx. "Imagination is Everything: A Conversation with E. Annie Proulx." 12 November 1997: Accessed 27/10/2010.

  You will find more resources as well as a useful overview of her life and works at:



" If you live in a woman's world and that's all there is, the other side of the equation looks pretty interesting."
Annie Proulx. 













The American Dream


Edges and disjuncts, shattered, bitter planes,

a wedge of disconsolate memories to echo fame,

fear of the past, a future still to blame--


Multiple heavens, hells, nothing is straight.

You earn your money, then you wait

for so-called life to see that you get paid.


Tilt! Again it's all gone wrong.

This is a heartless, hopeless song.

This is an empty, useless song.

Robert Creeley


From The 2River View, 2_4 (Summer 1998)