That Old Ace in the Hole

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That Old Ace in the Hole
FourthEstate 2002 AnnieProulx ThatOldAceintheHole.jpg
First edition cover
Author Annie Proulx
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher 4th Estate
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 359 pp
ISBN 0-00-715152-7

That Old Ace in the Hole is a 2002 novel by Annie Proulx.[1][2][3]


Bob Dollar is sent by his employer, the multinational "Global Pork Rind Corporation", to scout for locations for intensive hog farming in the Texas Panhandle. Dollar goes about the work of meeting local down-on-their-luck farmers to manipulate them into selling out.[3] He bases his search in the fictional town of Woolybucket, named after the real tree species, Sideroxylon lanuginosum.[2]

There he gets a job at Woolybucket's Old Dog restaurant, and moves into an old bunkhouse in local historian LaVon Fronk's ranch. The inhabitants of the town and the region's quirkiness and stubbornness work on the fundamentally decent Dollar.[1] The ace in the hole of the title is Ace Crouch, who quietly leads Dollar to a "kind of small, quiet and personal redemption."[1][3]

Critical reception[edit]

Writing in The Observer, Adam Mars-Jones described the book as "richer in wishful thinking than in the hard knowledge that the author has so patiently acquired."[4]