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A brilliant novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Proulx, author of 'The Shipping News' and 'Brokeback Mountain'. 'That Old Ace in the Hole' is a richly textured story of one man's struggle to make good in the inhospitable ranch country of the Texas panhandle, told with razor-sharp wit and a masterly sense of place. Some folks in the Texas panhandle do not like hog farms. But Bob Dollar, the newly hired hog site scout for Global Pork Rind, intends to do his job. Bob must contend with tough men and women like ancient Freda Beautyrooms, who controls a ranch he covets, and Ace Crouch, the windmiller who defies the hog farms. As Bob settles in at La Von Fronk's bunkhouse and lends a hand at Cy Frease's Old Dog Cafe, he is forced to question everything.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780007151523
ISBN-10: 0007151527
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 130mm x 25mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Fourth Estate Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publish Date: 22-Mar-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » One of the great delights of Annie Proulx is her talent for digging beneath the surface of an American landscape and its inhabitants and emerging - triumphantly - with a fistful of dirty gems. However unpromising or downright unappealing her choice of canvas might appear to be at first glance, she always has the knack of unearthing its social, cultural and moral riches. And never more so with this work, in which the wasted vistas of the Texas panhandle form the setting for a slow-building but deep-burning drama of a community's battle to maintain the integrity of its heritage in a swiftly globalising world. Bob Dollar, recruited as an undercover site scout for the multi-national conglomerate Gobal Pork Rind, has the task of targeting land-owners whose property might be suitable for conversion into hog-farms. He takes a room in the teetotal town of Woolbucket, where he soon finds himself more interested in hearing stories about the town's eccentric inhabitants, past and present, than in paving the way for money deals with its intransigent old-timers. Bob clearly isn't cut out for the job, and within weeks his cover is blown. But by then the dreary panhandle landscape and its people have taken a grip on him, making his role as champion of the globalised `pork unit' increasingly untenable. This is crowded, fact-strewn, celebratory fiction, rich with raucous, spot-on dialogue and unbridled humour. So peopled is it with characters, that for a while, one almost loses sight of the mild, well-meaning Bob Dollar. But with breath-taking craft, Proulx brings him back, and at the same time gives every minor character a role in the story's final blossoming, making its narrative conclusion one of the most richly satisfying, as well as the most optimistic, that she has ever orchestrated. Life-affirming stuff. Liz Jensen is the author of War Crimes for the Home. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A kind of Rake's Progress set in the Texas panhandle, where a slick Denver hustler goes to fleece the rubes and ends up going over to their side. The aptly named Bob Dollar hasn't got much going for him except youth, innocence, and an uninformed ambition to make something of himself. It's not surprising he turned out this way, considering that his no-good parents walked out when he was seven, leaving him in the care of his crusty uncle while they went off to seek their fortune in Alaska. Now that he's all grown up and done with college, Bob takes a job with the Global Pork Rind Corporation as location scout. His mission is to scour the Texas panhandle looking for ranches that might be bought to use as hog farms for the GPR. It's a tough sell (who wants to live near a hog farm?), and the Texas outback is rough territory for salesmen under the best of circumstances. For a young man in a hurry, though, the job offers hope of quick advancement and good money down the line. But Bob, a Denver boy, has never been to Texas before, and he doesn't know the first thing about the ways of folks on the panhandle-where millionaires are likely to live in trailers and building steam locomotives in your garage might count as a normal hobby. In the little crossroads town of Woolybucket, with his landlady LaVon Fronk as his guide, he sets out to size up the locals and go in for the kill. He soon settles upon Ace and Tater Crouch as his best target: cash-poor and getting on in years, the Crouch brothers own a large spread that would be perfect for a hog farm. Unfortunately for Bob, the Crouches have more than dollars in mind. Even worse, they eventually make him see that there's more than dollars in life. Funny, deft, and sharply told, Proulx's latest (after Close Range, 1999) suffers from excessive local color in parts, but it's engaging and worthwhile-if not up to her usual level. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx published her first novel 'Postcards' in 1991 at the age of 56. 'The Shipping News' won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Award and the Irish Times International Prize. Her third novel, 'Accordion Crimes', was published in 1996. She is also the author of three short-story collections, 'Heart Songs' (1994), 'Close Range' (1999) and 'Bad Dirt' (2004). 'Brokeback Mountain' was made into an Oscar-winning film in 2005. 'Fine Just the Way It Is', her third collection of Wyoming short stories, is published in 2008.

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