Book Review: Heart Songs

Heart Songs by Annie Proulx is a collection of short stories. The stories thread their way in and around the conflict between rural and urban. All the pieces are set in the North East of North America; both US and Canada. Proulx's most renowned work, The Shipping News, winner of the Pulitzer, was also set in this region of the continent.

Proulx stories are rich in description and character, but the tone of the situations is almost always a bit dismal. Most of the stories are about some form of struggle between locals of the rural north east and encroaching urbanites. Whether it's trendy doctors moving into old farms and research local geneology or swarms of hunters encroaching on local hunting spots. Sometimes the urban influence is a remote business decision with strong ramifications for the local community. Many of the stories reminded me of my own childhood in New Mexico; woodstoves piping on winter days, hunting with dad, beat up pickup trucks, and a sense of separation between the locals and the townies as we called them as a kid. One of the stories titled broken arrow has a scene describing how a farmer purchases a washing machine for his wife's birthday. In past gender-role days where a woman toiled over a wash board and bucket, this was probably an apt gift. But I remember my father doing it for my mother and it didn't go well at all ;) Remember guys Diamonds are a girls best friend. Reach for this book on a snow day when your stuck at home in your PJs. Take with tea.