Books That Made a Difference to Mary Roach
By Annie Proulx
If I had 10 to the 30th times the writing talent that I have, I like to think that this is the sort of book I'd write. It speaks to two things dear to me: the far-off, overlooked blank spots on the map (e.g., Newfoundland) and misfits (e.g., Quoyle: "a great damp loaf of a body. ... At 16 he was buried under a casement of flesh. Head shaped like a crenshaw."). Proulx's talent is so profound and mystifying as to be almost extraterrestrial. I don't exaggerate when I say that her acknowledgments (in particular, for the story collection Bad Dirt) are more compelling reading than many authors' books.