cover image Heart Songs and Other Stories

Heart Songs and Other Stories

E. Annie Proulx. Scribner Book Company, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-18717-4

Set in fictional Chopping County in the Vermont backwoods, the 11 stories in this authoritative debut couple hunting and fishing lore with the meanness and misery of folk as trapped as the game they pursue. ``Bedrock,'' in which widowed old Perley is coerced into marriage with a young neighborhood slut and then cuckolded by her, captures setting and spirit explicitly. So, less directly, does the title story whose shiftless anti-hero, country-and-western singer Snipe, plods down a dirt road to fiddle with a family band in lieu of pursuing a paying joband falls hotly for the singer, Nell, who delivers a nasty surprise. Denser than these, and more visionary, ``The Wer-Trout'' tells of Rivers who, his wife dead, contains his loneliness with ancient Chinese poetry and the exquisite fashioning of trout flies. Appropriately related in clear, tightly honed prose, each of these stories ends with a visceral punch. Proulx is definitely a writer to watch. (October)