May 24, 2010

Annie Proulx, "Them Old Cowboy Songs", in The Best American Short Stories 2009 (Mariner, 2009), 241-63.

As problematic as anthologies always are, they do have the benefit of introducing me to authors I probably wouldn't read otherwise. Annie Proulx is a good example. I chose her story for my Book Club class (where we read and discuss short stories) because it uses a fair amount of regional vocabulary and accent (or is twang) which I thought would be good to expose advanced ESL students to.

The story is a tragedy, with deaths aplenty. One of the more interesting threads throughout is how women are both powerful (Mrs. Dorgan's key role in advancing her husband's career) and weak in late 19th century cow country. The fact that the young bride, Rose, is left to die due to the complications of a childbirth she went through alone and that no one finds out about it until months later, shows how women couldn't (and still shouldn't?) rely on the men in their lives.

I'm really curious to see what my students, mostly Chinese women, will make of this tonight.


Blogger tenstorytreehouse said...

Proulx seems to have a way of making into those anthologies. Please report back about what your students make of her and the Old West. I'm highly intrigued.


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