Vinegar Pie

William Skidelsky

  • That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx
    Fourth Estate, 361 pp, £17.99, January 2003, ISBN 0 00 715151 9

The Texas and Oklahoma panhandles are adjacent strips of high flat land sticking out across the base of the Great Plains. This overlooked territory is where Annie Proulx sets her fourth novel, a determinedly eccentric comedy about a dreamy 25-year-old called Bob Dollar. When he was eight, Bob’s parents moved to Alaska, leaving him on the doorstep of his Uncle Tam’s ‘Used but Not Abused’ thrift store in Denver. Although Uncle Tam has always maintained that this ‘wasn’t abandonment’, Bob’s parents have failed to contact him since, and he has grown up certain of little other than that ‘he wasn’t important enough to bring along.’

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