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That Old Ace in the Hole (2002)
by Annie Proulx
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743242483, Paperback)Bob Dollar is a reluctant land swindler. When the 25-year-old protagonist in Annie Proulx's That Old Ace in the Hole signs on as a location scout for Global Pork Rind, an industrial hog farming corporation, he has no idea what kind of moral quandaries he's in for. Well, maybe he does. His assignment, after all, is to infiltrate a tiny town in the Texas Panhandle and find a tract of land his employer can turn into an industrial hog farm. Bob tells the locals he's scouting for luxury home developers ("They feel there is potential here"), but as a cover story it's less than clever. Only a fool would build mansions in the godforsaken Panhandle country, a place of light soil, bad wind, killing drought, and end-of-world thunder. "To live here," one Panhandler tells Bob, "it sure helps if you are half cow and half mesquite and all crazy." The narrative follows Bob's hapless quest to ink a deal, but Proulx's mission is bigger than that. She's out to tell the story of the Panhandle itself, to write an entirely new literary territory into existence. With the help of a menagerie of eccentric characters set down in "the most complicated part of North America," Proulx succeeds admirably. --Claire Dederer
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:23 -0400)
"In That Old Ace in the Hole Annie Proulx has written a story brimming with language, history, landscape, music, and love. The novel, Proulx's fourth, is told through the eyes of Bob Dollar, a young Denver man trying to make good in a bad world. Dollar is out of college but aimless, and he takes a job with Global Pork Rind - his task to locate big spreads of land in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles that can be purchased by the corporation and converted to hog farms." "Dollar finds himself in a Texas town called Woolybucket, whose idiosyncratic inhabitants have ridden out all manner of seismic shifts in panhandle country. These are tough men and women who survived tornadoes and dust storms, and witnessed firsthand the demise of the great cattle ranches. Now it's feed lots, hog farms, and ever-expanding drylands." "Dollar settles into LaVon Fronk's old bunkhouse for fifty dollars a month, helps out at Cy Frease's Old Dog Cafe, targets Ace and Tater Crouch's ranch for Global Pork, and learns the hard way how vigorously the old owners will hold on to their land, even though their children want no part of it."--BOOK JACKET.
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