Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I Don't Know How The Movie Will Be, But The Short Story May Have Some of You Batting for The Other Team in No Time
I read a short story today by E. Annie Proulx called "Brokeback Mountain". The film adaptation is coming out this month and it's getting positive reviews ahead of its release. The short story's up on the New Yorker website -- here's the link. It's not often you have to stop your reading of a story or a novel to look at a particular sentence to figure out how the hell they did what they did (a turn of phrase, some unexpected imagery, etc.), but reading her stuff I was doing it all the time. She's able to evoke time and place perfectly with what seems like no effort at all. I remember someone at NCSA told me once that what they thought most interesting and admirable about E. Annie Proulx was her ability to change voices altogether depending on the story she was writing. It's hard enough for a writer to find a voice that works well enough to get one through a whole life of writing, much less a brand new one each time out, which is what she does. She adopts a kind of rural, rough-hewn but eloquent voice to tell this story. She lives in Wyoming and the story takes place in the same state. She seems to have their cadence and vernacular down pat -- the dialogue never once rings false, or inspired fits of cringing. It's less like she's telling a story she came up with than it is her transcribing what really happened somewhere. And yet the voice in this story is totally different than the voice she used in writing The Shipping News, but they are both equally strong and persuasive, and entirely suited for the story being told. Kind of a genius. I'm inclined now to grab up everything she's ever written and read it all.
Anyway. Positive blather is never as fun as negative blather, so I'll cut short the adulation. I recommend you check out the story. I don't really gravitate to short stories, but this one's worthwhile. Read it (or some of it) and post up something on the comments. I shore love comments.