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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Annie Proulx's That Old Ace in the Hole 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, when 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 witnessed firsthand tornadoes, dust storms, and 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 $50 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 onto their land, even though their children want no part of it.

Robust, often bawdy, strikingly original and intimate, That Old Ace in the Hole tracks the vast waves of change that have shaped the American landscape and character over the past century. In Bob Dollar, Proulx has created one of the most irresistible characters in contemporary fiction.

©2002 Annie Proulx, All Rights Reserved; (P)2002 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved, AUDIOWORKS Is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Proulx imparts [the story] with such minute accuracy that it's like seeing a painting up close and magnified, with each tiny brush stroke lovingly emphasized." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Winston Salem, NC, USA
  • 03-13-03

Wonderful characters and a Message, too

Having read the Shipping News, I figured this might be a good read with interesting characters and I was not wrong at all. Annie is a master of the descriptive phrase. She doesn't miss a detail. Narration in this book is excellent, adding greatly to the "feel" of the book. My Dad grew up in the Panhandle, so this made this all the more interesting. And it does speak volumes about big industry and our environment, especially telling in today's political atmosphere, where it seems like we are doing our best to gut our environment in a short-sighted frenzy to make a buck.

If you enjoy a "craftsman" of the written word, then you'll love Annie Proulx.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fantastic!

This book paints a vivid portrait of the Texas Panhandle - the scenery (breathtaking), the weather (unpredictable), and especially the people (strong, eccentric). It tells the story of a young man's journey from Denver to the panhandle to find land for corporate hog farms. He becomes part of the local community and in his search for hog farm sites (and hog farms are highly unpopular among the locals) he begins to get a sense of what he really wants to do with his life. The local characters that inhabit this story are absolutely delightful and the reader does a superb job, giving each character a voice and making you feel that you are right there in the room with them. Fantastic!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Donald
  • Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 05-26-07

solid writing and terrific narrator

this was a charming book - well-written - with characters you felt you knew by the end. The narrator was fantastic and you will delight in simply hearing the phrases flow by. Here Proulx creates a lush 'texture' you feel immersed in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Slow and fragmented

Some novels are intended to be epic. This means that they wind on an on for ever while you keep waiting for the story to take off. Maybe the next chapter will be a little more interesting?
Annie Proulx excels at writing epic novels where the tide of events runs slower than the Don. Her characters are like butterflies, slowly finding their way across a meadow by turning this way and that way. Introducing yet another queer character into That Old Ace in the Hole does not help very much, because the story still remains fragmented.
I get the feeling that even Annie got fed up on this one before she reached the finishing line. Question is - does anyone bother to read a novel, intent on unearthing any gems, before it goes off to the publisher?
Four stars goes to Arliss Howard, who is a magnificent reader. I'll probably end up listening to the whole novel once again, simply because listening to his voice is such a pleasure.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • C. Levitan
  • Incline Village, NV United States
  • 09-24-12

Beautiful regional coming-of-age story

Would you listen to That Old Ace in the Hole again? Why?

This great story recounts Bob Dollar's trying to set up hog farms in the Panhandle, a job he loathes for a goal he hates, against people he respects. The story is a little like 'Shipping News', a lost man who saves himself, helped by the community and the land.

What did you like best about this story?

The narration of this story was great, with perfect voices for each character.

  • Overall

Lots of fun

This was a great slice-of-life story about life on the Texas panhandle with an engaging central character, multiple interesting secondary characters and a terrific narrator. My only regret was that the book only came in the abridged version.

  • Overall
  • Dorn
  • Novi, MI, USA
  • 09-28-05

As good as you would expect

As good a view of the Oklahoma/Texas Panhandle as the Shipping News was of Nova Scotia.

Well, I could be wrong, having spent no significant time in either place, but after reading this, I felt I knew the people and the culture. On top of that, there's a good story with genuinely interesting characters. The narration is excellent, always interesting with very clear and consistent distinctions between characters.

I have no regrets about this one!

  • Overall

Sorry it was abridged

Classic Annie. Beautifully written. I thought the ending odd. It seemed she wasn't sure how to make it stop. But that's the only negative. Besides the fact it was abridged. I hate that!

  • Overall
  • Iver
  • Portland, OR, USA
  • 07-25-04

Masterfully Written and Read

This book is typical of Annie Proulx's work. It develops compelling characters and situations with great care and detail while educating the reader about the real-life environmental, social, and cultural settings in which the fictional story takes place. There is certainly a hard edge to the author's writing: many of the situations described are downright depressing. However, the protagonist's persistence through difficult circumstances, grace under pressure, and concern for others are also vividly portrayed. I learned a great deal about the history and geography of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, and found the book to be compelling and inspiring.

This is one of the best abridged audiobooks I have listened to. Not only is the story outstanding, but the reader uses his considerable acting skills to portray the colorful voices of many of the characters. I find myself wanting to purchase the book now, in order to linger over some of the passages, learn the spellings of some of the names, and read what was omitted in the abridgement.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

little errors too much

I'm a fan of the author, but I believe one cannot write as easily about Texas as one can other places. A small error here and there is not so bad, but when coupled with the occasional pronunciation error of the narrator when trying to sound Texan...I quit the book with a sigh after a little over an hour. This Texan will read the book instead, and forgive the outsider errors because the author is so good.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful