Fine Just The Way It Is marks Annie Proulx's return to the Wyoming of Brokeback Mountain and the familiar cast of hardy, unsentimental prairie folk. The stories are cast over centuries, and capture the voices and lives of the settlers this sagebrushed and weatherworn country has known, from the native Indian tribes to the modern day ranch owners and politicians, and their cowboy forebears.
In 'A Family Man', an old man nearing the end of his life unburdens himself of the weighty family secrets that were his father's unwelcome legacy. 'Them Old Cowboy Songs' follows Archie and Rosie, a young pioneer couple, and their hardships in their attempt to homestead in the exposed wintry expanses of the prairie, and 'Testimony of the Donkey' finds a young international couple, Marc and Caitlin, struggling with much more modern concerns, and confronting uncertainty as their relationship comes to its end.
These are stories of desperation and hard times, often marked by an inescapable sadness, set in a landscape both brutal and magnificent. Enlivened by folk tales, flights of fancy, and details of ranch and rural work, they juxtapose Wyoming's traditional character and attitudes – confrontation of tough problems, prejudice, persistence in the face of difficulty – with the more benign values of the new west. These are bold, elegant and memorable pieces, and once more confirm Annie Proulx as one of the most talented, unique short story writers in the language.