162 of 168 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2006
I wanted to be able to talk about this story in a casual conversation without getting tears in my eyes so I actually went and saw the movie. It has been my experience that however powerful a piece of literature might be, a movie can make it banal. For those who have seen the movie, I was exactly as sucessful as you would have thought. Now I can't talk about the story or the movie.
It is a symptom of our national myopia about homosexuality that anyone would conclude that this story is about gays or was written to serve some gay agenda. Downright silly if you ask me, so don't let yourself get sidetracked.
I can't shake this story, me, a respectable mother of 3 with nothing in my life history which would approach the grief these two men experience. All I can conclude at this point is that my spirit knows the losses that are to come to me -- my parents, a brother, maybe my husband -- and the crushing grief that is to come.
To say this story changed me would be inaccurate -- it has not finished its work in my life. I can't think what more a reader could ask for. So read it -- even if you are anti-gay, pro-family, etc. Be open to the idea that there is something in this story for you, or, at the very least, be prepared to defend your position in the face of what Ms. Proulx has given us.
92 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2006
First things first. Annie Proulx' short story Brokeback Mountain is absolutely awesome. So much has been written about it, I don't think I'll have to go into detail.
However this version of it provides horrible value for money compared to other alternatives.
For just 1$ more, you can get the "From Story to Screenplay" book, which not only includes this story but also the published screenplay to the movie AND three interesting essays by Proulx, Ossana, and MCMurtry.
The second alternative, also just a measly dollar more expensive, is Annie Proulx' "Close Range: Wyoming Stories", which also includes this story and 10 more short stories by Proulx.
I'd only recommend this item to collectors who want all merchandise from the movie. Everyone else is better served with the alternatives I mentioned, IMHO.
232 of 259 people found the following review helpful
Annie Proulx's short story, "Brokeback Mountain," is a beautifully crafted tale of love and longing. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar meet when they're 20 year olds tending sheep on the titular mountain. The men are grateful for having each other for company on the long and lonely job; unexpectedly, they have sex on a cold winter's night. They both pass it off as a one-time thing and move on with their lives. However, when they meet again four years later, it's clear that they cannot forget each other, leading to years of yearning and ultimately frustration.
Set in 1963, the story uses the mythos of the great American West and cowboys to full effect. Ennis and Jack are two of the last people you'd expect to romance each other, which only deepens the meaning and realism of their relationship. Proulx's writing is spare; it took me awhile to read through and absorb the tale because of all that it implies without stating directly. With Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall on the cover and trailers for the movie playing non-stop, it's hard to not imagine them as the characters, which does not lessen the story and its impact. The ending is somewhat abrupt and perhaps overly tragic - but then all-too-often so is life. As others have noted, "Brokeback Mountain" is not necessarily "gay" lit; the characters and their longing are universal and the writing is simply excellent. Highly recommended.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2006
I know this area is for reviewing the book Brokeback Mountain and not the film, but I had to respond to another reviewer's comments about the movie. I found my way to this page because I was so moved by the film I wanted to read the story upon which it was based. I am pretty picky and tough to please when it comes to both books and films, I'm not particularly liberal, and I rented this movie with no expectations beyond that it was a quirky little "gay cowboy movie."
IT BLEW ME AWAY. I watched it three times. I can't remember the last time a film affected me like this. It stayed with me for days, mostly thanks to Heath Ledger's haunting portrayal of Ennis Del Mar. This is truly one of the best performances I've ever seen on the screen. This movie cuts to the heart as much because of what is not said between characters as what is said. It has startlingly few gay love scenes, and even those are nongratuitous and brief; in fact, the two male leads have more sex scenes with the women characters than with each other. There is more "gayness" in an average episode of "Will & Grace."
I never doubted for a minute that Jack and Ennis were in love, it's in every gesture, every look, and the fact that they continue to see each other for over 20 years despite the risks involved. Remember that men especially in those days were conditioned not to express their true feelings, even when it didn't involve a social taboo. The Jack Twist character only solicits prostitutes because he yearns to be with Ennis but can't. He like Ennis is a homosexual man living in a time and place where he is forced to deny that reality and live a lie. If he was only looking for sex, he wouldn't drive hundreds of miles just because he learns that Ennis got divorced. He is even willing to leave his family to be with Ennis.
Calling this a "gay cowboy movie" does it a great injustice. I don't think Ang Lee could have done a better job. It deserved to win the Oscar not because it's "politically correct" or it tackles a controversial subject, but because it's brilliantly written, directed, and most of all acted. If you haven't seen the movie yet and maybe are hesitating because you think it will make you uncomfortable, see it and you won't regret it. And if you're like me and had thought of Heath Ledger as a pretty-boy actor who did costume movies, you're in for a rude awakening. This film is one of the best I've ever seen, and I can't wait to read the story.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2005
I first heard of Brokeback Mountain when the movie was in production. It sounded good, so I immediately ordered the book, and boy am I glad I did. Annie Proulx has seriously touched me in ways I never thought a book, or any story for that matter, could. Brokeback Mountain starts out as a tale of two rough and tough farm and ranch hands, sequestered on Brokeback Mountain for the summer herding sheep. Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist immediately hit it off, drinking together and telling stories by the fire. But with night comes the cold, and it only takes one night to ignite their deep passion for one another, one that they must hide from the world. Both vow "I ain't no queer" and "It ain't nobody's business but ours", but after four gut-wrenching years apart, both longing for the other and wanting to hold the other near, the finally meet again, and pick up their ardent affair. By now, it's more than sex, it's a full-fledged relationship that neither can bear to sustain with anyone but the other.
I seriously recommend picking up Brokeback Mountain. The way Proulx writes the dialogue, describes the men, articulates the view of the landscape make the book more real, and at the end, after you've invested yourself in 58 pages, saddens your heart with sympathy for both men, knowing what both wanted, and at the same time knowing they could never have it. Though the book is only 58 pages, by the end you feel like you've known the men for the span of 20 years the book takes place, and that you've been watching and following along with them for that long. Brokeback Mountain deserves way beyond 5 stars, as Proulx delivers at least what I think to be the best book I've ever read, and is a tale that no one should go on without reading.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2006
As you (may) already know, "Brokeback Mountain" is the story of forbidden homosexual love in rural 60's Middle-America where homophobia and bigotry are (very) prevalent. This is an awesome love story because the love of Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar is pure, and genuine.
The book is actually a short story, however Annie Proulx is able to take the reader where the story is going because the story is very detailed and definitive.
The book is slightly different from the movie, although I was surprised to see that just about everything in the movie was mentioned in the book. However there are some details in the book that are not mentioned in the movie, for example the mention of pot-smoking between the two men. Also, the book does not discuss the characters of Lureen and Alma as the movie did.
When I first read this book and saw the movie I thought it was an incredibly tragic story. After thinking about it over the past six months (I cannot get this movie out of my mind because it is so thought-provoking), I have decided that "Brokeback Mountain" is also a happy tale. Because true love is so fleeting, and scarce, and these two men were able to find some happiness within each other, however heart-rending it may be.
155 of 187 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2005
Folks, before you buy this book, note that this is a **short** story from "Close Range: Wyoming Stories" by Annie Proulx.
People stating distructive criticism towards the "shortness" or the "lack of depth" of the characters should find their time elsewhere. It is unfair to expect the level of character development from a short story. I digress.
I normally would not read these type of fiction, but I thought why not. I went over to my university library, checked out "Close Range: Wyoming Stories," and went to the last selection on "Brokeback Mountain."
I was speechless with a heavy heart when I reached the conclusion to the story. Wow! Ms. Proulx's style and language is **superb!** Pick up or (borrow) and read "Brokeback Mountain" to feel or get a sense of what I am refering to. I have no words to describe because I am not a seasoned literary reader. My reading is mainly scientific microbiology journals.
As Levar Burton of "Reading Rainbow" would say, "You don't have to take my word for it."
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2006
In Ang Lee's 2005 film, "Brokeback Mountain," the doomed love of two cowboys is gradually chronicled over a 2-hour film. The film expands on Annie Proulx's story of the same title.
I recommend that if you've seen the film, you oughta read the short story, available in this new 60-page movie tie-in or in Proulx's earlier short story collection, "Close Range: Wyoming." (The story is from 1997.)
You oughta read the short story because you get to experience the whole tale of Ennis and Jack in a different way. Whereas the film is epic, picturesque, and even a tad long, the story is succinct and often subtle, but full of detail that can easily be missed on the first reading. Proulx is poetic as she immerses the reader in STUNNINGLY written cowboy vernacular as the tale is told mostly thru Ennis (wonderfully realized by Heath "Who Knew He Could Act?!" Ledger).
A good short story makes you pause in the middle of reading it because the prose is so powerful that you just gotta sit and reflect a bit. Seemingly insignificant scenes in the film take on a brand-new literary significance as you read Proulx, and she frames her prose to highlight Brokeback's themes of denial, longing and silence over a relationship between two cowboys that just ain't status quo. In the film, the scrambling of the sheep with another herd seems unimportant, if not comical; in the story, it's a turning point, as the mixing of things that one don't expect to get mixed together begins to haunt the masculine cowboy, and a love for his fellow ranchhand, Jack, escalates.
Though it's just words on a page here, Proulx's prose paints rich images in your head. Somehow the image of Ennis and Jack's shirts intertwined on a hanger lingers a bit longer when you read the text than just by seeing the film. Other than taking your Brokeback experience to a new level, you won't get any more plot points than what you see in the film. (But you will get to read a little bit more about Jack Twist's troubled relationship with his father in the short story.) The short story is easy to read, especially if you already have seen the film. And unlike many short stories, it's not so cryptic that it's hard to understand, and the ending is very satisfactory and carries perhaps the whole point of the story (i won't say it here, don't wanna spoil it!). Once you read it, I promise iyou'll probably want to read it again because it's so rich in detail, language, and theme that you'd swear you just finished reading an entire novel when you're through. And wannabe novelists take note: Proulx is able to convey the entire character of Jack's frigid wife mentioning her in only like two (three?) sentences/phrases.
Regarding this edition: The movie tie-in stretches a single story over 60-plus pages, so the print is kinda big, and you get maybe 2-3 paragraphs a page. There are no pictures or anything specially added, but the cover is the movie poster image with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal (Jack Twist).
On another note, if you happen to collect the yearly O. Henry awards short stories collections, I've seen somewhere this story is in the 1997 annual. Not sure if it's in the Best American Short Stories collection for that year, but I don't think it is (what an oversight!!).
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2005
At first I was apprehensive about gettin this book, but once I heard about the movie, and decided to buy it (and read it), I was almost brought to tears. This book (either if you are gay or straight) will entrance you to the point that you will not want to do nothing else but sit and finish the book. From start to finish, this was on eof the best books I have read, so far. I would highly recommend it to anyone. Thank you Annie Proulx for creating such a moving masterpiece. Buy this book, and I promise that you will not be disappointed.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I recall a short story version of Brokeback Mountain many years ago in a major periodical (alas, I can't recall the periodical). I had an idea that it would, in the fullness of time, become a major motion picture, and that it has. It is an award-winning film already, and looks set for some sort of Oscar recognition.
However, in the hype surrounding the film, those interested would be wise to look at the book. There is much more depth here than in the film, much more about the interior workings of the main characters and what they must endure. This is ultimately not a love story, as the marketing has been spinning the film, but rather an expose on the dangers and drawbacks of living in the closet. For the purposes of this story, Annie Proulx has juxtaposed two diametrically opposite cultures in the American psyche - the gay culture and the cowboy culture (although history is, as it often is, in fact rather different from what the Hollywood-created current remembrance of it is). One comes to wonder at the resistance that all characters seem to have for breaking free of their bonds; ultimately, none of the relationships are satisfying, and there is an emotional desolation as wide and spare as brush land and prairies of the American West.
The lead characters meet while working for the summer as wranglers and watchers over herds. They form a bond that renews at regular intervals during their lives, lives that go on to other, more traditional and socially acceptable settings. Each gets married, each has children, each embarks (in one way or another) in a working life that would seem to preclude the other, but yet the tie that binds them draws them together again on a regular basis.
The closet theme is heightened in the lead characters, but in fact serves as a metaphor for readers who might not fit in that particular closet - we all have skeletons in our closets, it seems, and in fact, we all have our own closets in which we hide and live out part of our lives.
Annie Proulx is an excellent writer, and even though I find it occasionally difficult to relate to her main characters (being involved in worlds several removes away from mine), I can still understand the themes of longing, despair, disappointment, and yes, love, too.