People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water

I just read the titular story of this post by Annie Proulx and it literally gave me the shivers in the last paragraph. Proulx writes a horrific story of mental illness, disfigurement, castration, and hopelessness, and then says, “We are in a new millenium and such desperate things no longer happen.” But that’s not the last sentence. The final sentence reads, “If you believe that you’ll believe anything.” That’s what gives me the chills. And it did again as I typed it.
Proulx’s writing about Wyoming reminds me a lot of Flannery O’Conner’s writing about the south. Both authors focus on the grotesque. And I always have that same goosebumpy feeling when I get to the end of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” when The Misfit says about the grandmother (after executing the entire family):
“She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”
These are two extremely well-crafted stories that are intensely violent in nature, but that do not elevate violence or make it something wonderful. Violence is shown for what it is–dangerous and infinitely sad.

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