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Heart Songs and Other Stories Paperback – March 17, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (March 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020360754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020360759
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The acclaimed debut short story collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Downtrodden country folk in New England are at the heart and soul of this compilation of 11 short stories. The stories focus on rural activities (hunting or fishing) and sometimes delve into class differences between the poor townspeople and the rich outsiders. Although the subject matter may not appeal to every reader, the stories flow effortlessly and the prose is elegant. In "Heart Songs," Snipe pursues a calling in country music while recognizing in himself "a secret wish to step off into some abyss of bad taste and moral sloth." The author refers to another character as "thin as a folded dollar bill, her hand as narrow and cold as a trout." Proulx creates vivid characters with a clever turn of phrase or an illuminating analogy. This collection, initially published in 1988, includes two new short stories: "A Country Killing" and "Negatives." Recommended for most collections, though libraries with the 1988 edition may wish to pass.
Kimberly G. Allen, Network MCI Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Annie Proulx's The Shipping News won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Award for Fiction, and the Irish Times International Fiction Prize. She is the author of two other novels: Postcards, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Accordion Crimes. She has also written two collections of short stories, Heart Songs and Other Stories and Close Range. In 2001, The Shipping News was made into a major motion picture. Annie Proulx lives in Wyoming and Newfoundland.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 23 customer reviews
Her short story collections are just riveting.
Jackie Geyer
Her characters are familiar yet enigmatic, and her writing is effortless, sprinkled with vivid images; words come to life in her hands.
RCM
Read this book and find out more about the rest of the hardship encased in moving, sometimes depressing stories.
P. A. Doornbos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read the Shipping news first. Struck by the wonderful use of language, in awe of the structure of this descriptive writing at its very best, I was not disappointed by these short stories written earlier. Some passages should be read again and again. One day, if not now, this author will be quoted as a modern classic
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer A. Pinard on May 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
E. Anne Proulx has the amazing talent to describe the small moments and details in life that we pass by everyday...but which we can immediately visualize when they are word-painted for us. She is an author that implores your every sense (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch, memory, & nostalgia) as you read. But her writing is not flowery...in fact it has a dark edge to it. Her descriptions are only surpassed by her characterization. She introduces you to the heart of rural Vermont through characters that you both admire and loathe...sometimes simultaneously. This collection of short stories is not her most famous work, but is perhaps her most classic. It is an easy read for pleasure, but one with layers and layers of depth for those who want to delve and ponder.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Maclen VINE VOICE on April 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you want to read short stories about mad, cantakerous and passionate characters, read this collection of short stories. Annie Proulx astonished us with her remakable and refreshingly original novel, "The Shipping News," and while she has stated that she is not as proficient in writing short stories as in writing novels, I disagree. I could not put down these stories of the brutal and grotesque rural landscape, and none of the stories disappoints. I look forward to reading her other collections, "Close Range: Wyoming Stories" and "Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2." Ms. Proulx is fast becoming one of America's leading authors of fiction.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Karbovsky on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
To those, who were already enchanted by E.Annie Proulx's masterpieces ('Postcards' or 'The Shipping News'): do not eschew this collection of early short stories. They are not unskillful sketches of incipient, promising author but dazzlingly and glamorously brilliant splashes of her extraordinary talent (paradoxically both tragical and comical), unforgettable portraits of sundry people, to whom from the first pages you will feel admiration or aversion but never indifference or lack of interest, people in search of lost happiness... such as all of us are...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Murphy on July 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Excellent collection of short stories by one of the very best short story writers, set in a rural community where life is hard for Proulx's people struggling to eke out a living. Tough, gritty stories with a deep-rooted connection to the land that give full play to the author's gift for capturing rugged, rural landscape in all its moods. Hunting and fishing provides an unusual backdrop for some of the human dramas played out: revenge, ill-will, greed, infidelity, passion and jealously, violence and death are all strong presences in these stringent stories so don't be misled by the tame hunting and fishing reference. Annie Proulx creates a cast of vivid characters - eccentric, downtrodden, down and out, malicious and conniving - bringing them alive in the space of a striking image or phrase.

A strong theme threading through several stories is the clash of values of two very different worlds: big-city hobbyists with ready money who show up in the country sporting their flash hunting gear and brand new boots - their rifles new and shiny, just like their cars - bringlng unwelcome improvements impinging on the land, customs and traditions of the poor rural community. My personal favourite of the collection is Stone City: a hunter stumbles on a remote, derelict farm high up on the snow-covered wooded hillsides but senses an atmosphere of evil pervading the abandoned ruin, Stone City, once owned by the Stone family, old man Stone and his brood of wild, unruly offspring. Gradually, more shocking revelations about the Stones and the grim past of Stone City come to light. Try also Annie Proulx's other superb short story collection of Wyoming stories, Close Range. Both books highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on July 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Annie Proulx might just be one of the best short story writers living today. "Heart Songs", which was published in 1995. is a jarring and heartfelt forecast of what was to come. For in these eleven stories, Annie Proulx polished her unique talent for storytelling that involves creating oddly familiar worlds and setting expectations on end.

The eleven stories that make up "Heart Songs" are concentrated around blue-collar New England landscapes, but their subjects are universal in nature, extending far beyond that limited scope. They are stories of revenge and greed, love and hate, pride and passion. One of the standouts in the collection is "Bedrock", the tale of an aging farmer who marries an abusive younger wife. Just when the reader thinks they know how to feel about the main character, Proulx turns their world upside down. The title piece, "Heart Songs" is about a do-nothing drifter named Snipe whose newest passion is playing the guitar. He stumbles upon a family of musicians who play songs he has never heard before, awakening music within in but with the possible cost of harming the family ties. "A Country Killing" has a gruesome beginning, with two Jehovah's witnesses discovering a grisly murder, but offers readers a subtly shocking ending. In a collection of eleven outstanding stories it is truly difficult to pick out a few that stand out from everything else.

There are moments in these stories that are laugh-out-loud funny and others where Proulx has poetically captured the bleak misery of poverty and loss that readers must pause before being able to read on. Her characters are familiar yet enigmatic, and her writing is effortless, sprinkled with vivid images; words come to life in her hands. "Heart Songs" is a truly remarkable collection of short stories, a primer not only on how stories should be written but also an exploration of the darkest recesses of the human heart.
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