After finishing The Shipping News I knew I had to read another Annie Proulx book. The protagonist of this story, Loyal Blood, is quite different from Quoyle, the protagonist of The Shipping News. But both of their stories are kick started by the death of a loved one. Loyal accidentally kills his girlfriend, buries her and takes off from his family’s pre-electric WWII era dairy farm in Vermont. Early in his adventure he comes upon a stack of postcards which he uses over the course of his life to write home. These postcards and others top the beginning of most of the chapters.
Annie Proulx’ strength is her ability to describe the world. Her descriptions of life on a dairy farm with a horrible father and husband, coal mines, and farming in North Dakota are worth the time invested in the book. She makes you feel what those environments are like and how them impact the people who live in them. I love books that have a section in them that make your heart race and makes it impossible to put down; even very good books often don’t have that section. For me, the description of Loyal’s life in North Dakota was that bit of reading bliss.
Many characters have real word “thing” names: Loyal, Mink,Jewell. It makes me wonder if I should have read this as an allegory; in the end I didn’t see it.
I highly recommend this novel.