Book Review: That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review and as I finished the last sentence of my first Annie Proulx novel, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to do another review. Reading this book has been a very interesting experience, though not in the way I expected. I had started it before my vacation, but chose not to bring it with me because I would finish it too fast and I didn’t want to schelp more than one book around while traveling. Picking it back up meant only a day’s interruption of my trek up Everest (i.e. reading War and Peace!)

That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx (Image courtesy of GoodReads.)

The story starts out a bit slowly and focuses on setting up our protagonist. Bob Dollar grew up in Denver with his Uncle Tam after his parents dropped him off, ostensibly on their way to Alaska where they would set up house and then send for him. They never did, though, and it’s fairly clear that they did not die in some horrible bear attack, but simply abandoned Bob and went off on their own. Bob tried to find them for a while but then accepted their absence and floated through life with his Uncle.

His Uncle Tam runs a second-hand store with a man named Wayne (or Bromo, as he’s often called) who also lives with them. They are obsessed with old plastics, especially Bakelite, and they never miss an episode of Antiques Roadshow. When Bromo decides he’s no longer infatuated with plastics and leaves to go to New York, there is the implication that the two men were lovers and had just broken up. Bob never really liked Bromo, but feels the effects of another parental figure leaving. Continue reading