True (As in Proulx) Grit Wins

After years of laboring in limbo, a tough Vermont novelist comes into her own

For 19 years E. (for Edna) Annie Proulx, whose fine, rambunctious second novel The Shipping News won the National Book Award last week, supported herself by writing for small to middling outdoor magazines. This is very close to being impossible. The caloric content of the checks that drift in months late is only marginally greater than that of rejection slips burned in the wood stove.

Proulx (rhymes with true) is 58, a tough, rooted Vermonter. She dropped out of graduate school years ago and fetched up in a bare cabin in the northern end of the state. She and a friend...

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