32 pages 1 hour read

Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1997

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Authorial Context: Annie Proulx

Content Warning: This section mentions anti-gay prejudice and hate crimes.

Annie Proulx was born in Connecticut in 1935 and lived in the northeast United States and Canada for much of her early and academic life. She published her first collection of short stories in 1988 (Heart Songs and Other Stories) and her first novel in 1992 (Postcards). Proulx focuses her writing around place—the environments in her stories shape and affect her characters. She has been called a regional writer, but she eschews the traditional definition as one who identifies with one region and stays with it. Proulx’s writing instead ranges from Newfoundland to rural Wyoming. Her lifelong love of and experience in the outdoors figure prominently in her writing, as do people who live near and interact regularly with natural forces.

Proulx’s characters are often victims of unwanted social change: “She often takes as her subject the dissolution of North American rural life: farmers, laborers, and ranchers whose livelihood is destroyed both by changes in society and their own purblind stubbornness” (Proulx, Annie. Interview with Christopher Cox. “Annie Proulx, The Art of Fiction No. 199.” The Paris Review, vol. 188, spring 2009). Ennis and Jack find themselves affected by these factors; Ennis can’t find long-term work as ranches dwindle in size or are sold off, and Jack’s experience as a rodeo cowboy is affected by a shift to “guys with money […] trained athaletes” (268).