E. Annie Proulx's first novel, Postcards, winner of the 1993 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction, tells the mesmerizing tale of Loyal Blood, who misspends a lifetime running from a crime so terrible that it renders him forever incapable of touching a woman.
Blood's odyssey begins in 1944 and takes him across the country from his hardscrabble Vermont hill farm to New York, across Ohio, Minnesota, and Montana to British Columbia, on to North Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico and ends, today, in California, with Blood homeless and near mad. Along the way, he must live a hundred lives to survive, mining gold, growing beans, hunting fossils and trapping, prospecting for uranium, and ranching. In his absence, disaster befalls his family; greatest among their terrible losses are the hard-won values of endurance and pride that were the legacy of farm people rooted in generations of intimacy with soil, weather, plants, and seasons.
Postcards chronicles the lives of the rural and the dispossessed and charts their territory with the historical verisimilitude and writerly prowess of Cather, Dreiser, and Faulkner. It is a new American classic.
  • Scribner | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684833682 | 
  • October 1996
List Price $28.99 (price may vary by retailer)

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Reading Group Guide

Annie Proulx
His trouble seemed to shift rather than repair.
When Loyal Blood accidentally kills his girlfriend, he abandons his family farm in Vermont and sets out on a journey across America that will continue for the rest of his life. The only communication he has with his family is in the form of postcards of which he sends with no return address. Because of this, he will never learn of his father's suicide, the loss of the farm, his sister's marriage, or his mother's tragic death. Alternating between Loyal's misadventures-including everything from being trapped in a mine to being scalped by an Indian-and the misfortunes of the family he leaves behind, Postcards chronicles the disintegration of the farming industry as well as the fate of the Bloods who must adapt to the new realities of post-World War II life or face their own extinction.
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Postcards is a compelling tale of the dark side of the American dream and "marks Proulx as a gifted prose stylist who renders her characters on the page to mesmerizing effect" (San Francisco Chronicle).
Discussion Questions:
1. For Loyal, what was "the moment when everything shifted, when the route of his life veered away from the main line"? Do you think that he is to blame for the tragic events that befall his family after he leaves the farm-his brother and father being arrested for arson, his see more

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About the Author

Annie Proulx
Gus Powell

Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx is the author of eight books, including the novel The Shipping News and the story collection Close Range. Her many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner award. Her story “Brokeback Mountain,” which originally appeared in The New Yorker, was made into an Academy Award-winning film. Her most recent novel is Barkskins. She lives in Seattle.