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?
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:
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/07/a-reader-apos-s-manifesto/2270/. 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:
http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/factfict/eapint.htm. Accessed 27/10/2010.
You will find more resources as well as a useful overview of her life and works at: http://www.answers.com/topic/annie-proulx.
" If you live in a woman's world and that's all there is, the other side of the equation looks pretty interesting."
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.
From The 2River View, 2_4 (Summer 1998)