Monday, April 19, 2010
I have taken a break from reading J.G. Ballard's huge collection of short stories (excellently-written, character-driven genre fiction, precisely the sort of thing I want to write) and taken up Close Range, a collection of stories by Annie Proulx. These stories are fascinating -- I've been in Wyoming only once in my life, but I feel like I'm back there while I read these tales. Proulx writes phrases and sentences that flow and shock like the finest lines of an opera aria. And her characters! OMG, to be able to create characters like this, whose lives are something I would have never thought to find interesting, and yet in her hands their stories become riveting. "The Mud Below," a story about a man trying to make a go of it in rodeo, turned out to be one of the finest stories I have ever read. Proulx says that short stories are hard for her to write, but with the high bar she seems to have set for herself, I can see why. Nonetheless, the words flow like music from her pen. This is two writers in a row (along with Ballard) with whom I've fallen in love.
"Brokeback Mountain" is the last story in this volume. I'll let you know what I think about it when I finish.
UPDATE: I finished Close Range – what a terrific collection of stories! I read “Brokeback Mountain,” and I wish I had read it before seeing the movie since it’s hard to shake off what I saw in the film when I imagine the scenes. The movie was a very close adaptation of the story, but I’ve grown to enjoy the way Annie Proulx depicts her settings and characters so much that I would like to have encountered them in “Brokeback Mountain” from her first. I highly recommend this collection of stories if you want to read some great writing.