Brokeback Mountain (short story)

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"Brokeback Mountain"
Brokeback Mountain Annie Proulx.jpg
Author Annie Proulx
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Short story
Published in The New Yorker
Publication type Magazine
Publisher The New Yorker
Media type Print (Periodical)
Publication date October 13, 1997

"Brokeback Mountain" is a short story by American author Annie Proulx. It was originally published in The New Yorker on October 13, 1997. The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for Fiction for its publication of "Brokeback Mountain" in 1998. Proulx won an O. Henry Award prize (third place) for her story in 1998.

The story was published in a slightly expanded version in Proulx's 1999 collection of short stories, Close Range: Wyoming Stories. This collection was named a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana adapted the story for a film of the same name, released in 2005. At that time, the short story and the screenplay were published together, along with essays by Proulx and the screenwriters, as Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay.[1][2] The story was also published separately in book form.

This work has also been adapted as an opera by the same name, composed by Charles Wuorinen with a libretto in English by Proulx. It premiered at the Teatro Real in Madrid on January 28, 2014.[3][4]

Synopsis[edit]

In 1963, two young men, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, are hired for the summer to look after sheep at a seasonal grazing range on the fictional Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming. Unexpectedly, they form an intense emotional and sexual attachment, but have to part ways at the end of the summer. Over the next twenty years, as their separate lives play out with marriages, children, and jobs, they continue reuniting for brief liaisons on camping trips in remote settings.

Literary form[edit]

"Brokeback Mountain" is a story told by an omniscient narrator. The narrative is realistic in tone and employs description, metaphor and dialogue to examine the actions, thoughts, emotions, and motivations of its main characters.

The narrative is mostly linear, apart from an introductory prologue (which was accidentally omitted from the initial publication in the New Yorker magazine); the story describes events in sequence from a beginning point in time, the year 1963 when the characters are introduced, to the end of the story some 20 years later. Other than the title location, the settings are actual locations in the United States. The characters are described in a naturalistic manner, as people living in a specific milieu. The story adheres to conventions of modern dramatic fiction; its literary devices serve to present a portrait of recognizable people in familiar situations, without supernatural or metaphysical allusions (while other of the Wyoming Stories do include passages of magical realism).

In the two-paragraph prologue, the lead protagonist, Ennis del Mar, awakes in his trailer at some unspecified time beyond the ending of the story. Over a cup of coffee he reflects on the time in 1963 when he first met Jack Twist. The main narrative then begins with the description of the two protagonists as they were in 1963:

From there, the story is an episodic examination of conflicts arising from the characters' interaction with each other and other people in their lives. The story condenses passing years and significant events into brief passages, and employs dialogue to reveal character and conflict.

Origins[edit]

Proux said she wrote the story based on her own reflections about life in the West. Regarding the setting, Proulx stated:

Proulx said her main characters of the two men affected her long after the story was published. The film version rekindled her feelings for them — an attachment that she had previously rejected. In a 1999 interview in The Missouri Review,[7] Proulx said the notion of falling in love with fictional characters was "repugnant".

Adaptations[edit]

Main article: Brokeback Mountain

The film Brokeback Mountain (2005) won numerous awards, including Academy Awards (for 2005) for Best Adapted Screenplay (McMurtry and Ossana), Best Director (Ang Lee), and Best Original Score (Gustavo Santaolalla). It was nominated for a total of eight awards (the most that year), including Best Picture, Best Actor (Heath Ledger as Ennis), and Best Supporting Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack). Its loss of Best Picture to Crash was not generally expected, though predicted by some.[8]

Charles Wuorinen, a contemporary American composer, became interested in the story, and Proulx wrote the libretto to adapt her work. Their work was commissioned by Mortier of the New York City Opera and they started working together in 2008, completing it in 2012. The work premiered at the Teatro Real in Madrid on 28 January 2014.[9][10]

Fan fiction[edit]

The film's popularity has inspired numerous viewers to write their own versions of the story and send these to Proulx. In 2008, Proulx said she wished she had never written the 1997 short story which inspired the film, because she has received so much fan fiction presenting alternative plots.:[11]

[The film] is the source of constant irritation in my private life. There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story.[12]

She said the authors, mostly men who claim to "understand men better than I do",[11] often send her their works:[12]

They constantly send ghastly manuscripts and pornish rewrites of the story to me, expecting me to reply with praise and applause for "fixing" the story. They certainly don't get the message that if you can't fix it you've got to stand it."[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay (Trade Paperback)". Scribner. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  2. ^ "Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay (Hardcover)". Scribner. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  3. ^ Andrew Clements, "Brokeback Mountain—Review", The Guardian (London), 29 January 2014
  4. ^ Anthony Tommasini, "Operatic Cowboys in Love, Onstage" (Review), The New York Times, 29 January 2014
  5. ^ Testa, Matthew (December 7, 2005). "Exclusive PJH Interview: At close range with Annie Proulx". Planet Jackson Hole. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  6. ^ Testa, Matthew (December 29, 2005). "Close Range". Salt Lake City Weekly. Retrieved 2006-03-16. 
  7. ^ "Interview with Annie Proulx". The Missouri Review Vol. XXII, No. 2. 1999. 
  8. ^ Associated Press (7 Feb 2006). "Can ‘Brokeback Mountain’ survive ‘Crash’?". Retrieved 7 June 2010. 
  9. ^ Andrew Clements, "Brokeback Mountain—Review", The Guardian (London), 29 January 2014
  10. ^ Anthony Tommasini, "Operatic Cowboys in Love, Onstage" (Review), The New York Times, 29 January 2014
  11. ^ a b Reynolds, Susan Salter (October 18, 2008). "Writer's no longer at home on range". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Hughes, Robert J. (September 6, 2008). "Return to the Range". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]