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The Lost Frontier


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction Chapter 1. Landscape Chapter 2. Pioneers Chapter 3. Ranchers Chapter 4. Cowboys Chapter 5. Indians Chapter 6. Losers Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index

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A reader's guide to Annie Proulx's Wyoming Stories, including detailed readings and a new appreciation of Proulx as a writer of the American West.

About the Author

Mark Asquith teaches English at Trinity School Croydon, UK where he specialises in the modern American novel, and holds a PhD from the University of London, UK. He is author of Thomas Hardy, Metaphysics and Music (2005).


In The Lost Frontier: Reading Annie Proulx's Wyoming Stories, Mark Asquith examines the brilliance and despair of Proulx's Wyoming trilogy (Wyoming Stories: Close Range, Bad Dirt, and Fine Just the Way It Is), reminding us of the importance of her background as an historian and of her ongoing engagement with landscapes and their communities from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Bird Cloud, Wyoming. Peeling back layer after delicate layer, Asquith situates Proulx's work within traditions of American fiction, nature writing, regionalism, and the continuing American obsession with the frontier. The prose here is both beautiful and deliciously sharp, and Asquith excels in providing remarkable insights into the development of the female voice in Proulx's Western fiction, of the troubled relationships she imagines between men and their myths, and her frequently overlooked engagement with Native people and their relationships to the land, their white neighbors, and each other. * Sara Spurgeon, Associate Professor of English, Texas Tech University, USA, and author of Cormac McCarthy: All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, The Road (2011) and Exploding the Western: Myths of Empire on the Postmodern Frontier (2005) *
Mark Asquith offers an insightful and original study of Annie Proulx's Wyoming Stories. The organization of his material along thematically-based chapters does full justice to the richness and complexity of the stories themselves, while Asquith's in-depth knowledge of the history and literature of the American West helps us to appreciate Proulx's contribution to that area. Asquith argues that, in the American West, Proulx has found a landscape commensurate to her creative talents. In Asquith, Proulx has found a knowledgeable and confident critic whose insights enrich our understanding of the author. * Aliki Varvogli, Lecturer in English, University of Dundee, UK, and author of The Shipping News: A Reader's Guide *
Mark Asquith brings a nuanced understanding to Annie Proulx's Wyoming trilogy. He assesses the edgy contours of Proulx's portrait gallery through familiar tropes and persuasive readings. Her Wyoming emerges as a bracing revision of the popular West. * O. Alan Weltzien, Professor of English, The University of Montana Western, USA, and author, most recently, of The Snowpeaks (2013) *
Throughout the book, Mark Asquith illustrates how the `crushing' mythology - `the tension between myth and people struggling to live up to that myth' - is the focus of much of Proulx's work. In expressive prose, that effectively counterbalances Proulx's mimicking of Wyoming's elliptical speech patterns, Asquith's comprehensive analysis shows `the existential difficulties' experienced by Proulx's characters. [...] Asquith expertly draws attention to the punishment of the `unwary' - no one, he demonstrates, whether pioneer, rancher, cowboy, Indian, holiday-maker, Hollywood star or retiree, has the requisite qualities for a healthy relationship with Proulx's Wyoming. * TLS *
What makes Asquith's reading of Proulx's Wyoming Stories so compelling is the rich context that he presents with each chapter. Asquith demonstrates an awareness of Western history and literature, both past and present, locating Proulx's work clearly in this context ... This study would appeal not only to those interested in the Wyoming Stories trilogy and Proulx's fiction, but to any reader and scholar interested in the study of Western, environmental, or regional fiction. * Contemporary Women's Writing *

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