#Muse media #Annie Proulx on Love


Love…#Muse media

#Muse Media are a series of short posts that combine different media with a notable author.

“Late in the afternoon, thunder growling, that same old green pickup rolled in and he saw Jack get out of the truck, beat up Resistol tilted back. A hot jolt scalded Ennis and he was out on the landing pulling the door closed behind him. Jack took the stairs two and two. They seized each other by the shoulders, hugged mightily, squeezing the breath out of each other, saying, son of a bitch, son of a bitch, then, and easily as the right key turns the lock tumblers, their mouths came together, and hard, Jack’s big teeth bringing blood, his hat falling to the floor, stubble rasping, wet saliva welling, and the door opening and Alma looking out for a few seconds at Ennis’s straining shoulders and shutting the door again and still they clinched, pressing chest and groin and thigh and leg together, treading on each other’s toes until they pulled apart to breathe and Ennis, not big on endearments, said what he said to his horses and his daughters, little darlin.” 

Annie ProulxBrokeback Mountain

Love is portrayed in novels in as many ways as there are to love. But in the quote above from the novella Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx manages to capture the most intense sense of passion and desire to make it a visceral need. If it’s not already obvious, the two characters have not seen each other for a long time – at least a year if not longer as I recall. If you want an example of writing that makes every word count, this is it. And she conjures not only love and passion, but by her use of phrases such as “stubble rasping” and repeating “son of a bitch” she manages to impart the sense of maleness that is integral to the scene, and the love affair the book portrays. And yet even then, there is a tenderness as Ennis calls Jack “little darlin”.  It’s one of the few books that I have read, then seen the film, and then  reread the book and still cried at the final scene.

In the video above, Annie Proulx talks about the making of Brokeback Mountain and gives some insight on her process of how she came up with the story and well as the film being made. Even watching the first minute I think you will find worthwhile.

Perhaps her love of the printed word helps to give us some insight as to how she can portray her signature characters from the American range so vividly.

 “You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”

Annie Proulx

Mountains in the Wind River Range, Wyoming

Mountains in the Wind River Range, Wyoming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 What  kinds of love scenes  do you like in a novel? Do you have a favorite love story ?

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

Many Thanks!

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  1. Great quote! I did not read the book, but I did see the movie so I understood. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the purpose of that last quote. I love to read, all kinds of genres. I cannot write them. I am a non-fiction writer. Maybe it means to read more non-fiction so I can write that better? Big sigh…. Whatever it means, I still love the post.
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  2. I’ve not read the book or seen the movie. It’s kind of weird maybe, I loved the scene in Gone With the Wind (my all time favorite movie and book) when Scarlett comes down the long stair case, and a drunk Rhett calls her into the dining room. Then Rhett goes on about Ms Nellie and how she loves Scarlett. Then he says how much he loves her with a threat to crush her skull. She runs off to go upstairs chastising him for his jealously. In an instant as he turns to go back in the dining room, he changes direction, grabbing her and going up the stairs for her to “turn him on.” You know the next morning it was the best lovemaking!

    Thanks AK.
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    • I too remember that scene, and confess to having a big crush on Clark Gable when I was about 10 yrs old. And yet poor Scarlett wakes up the next morning gleaming, but left on her own. I guess the film was in the days when men who were ‘bad boys’ were consider v. Sexy. Mind you she was pretty manipulative herself!
      Sex can be done very well in both film and novels, but oh dear when it’s not done well it does make one cringe! Thanks so much for the comment Pat:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..#Muse media #Annie Proulx on LoveMy Profile

  3. Brokeback Mountain might be one of the most flawless film from print adaptations I have ever seen. I agree 100% that all writers are best-served learning from the best writers out there, no matter the genre (including nonfiction what also encompasses a wide variety of sub-genres as well).

    Proulx’s The Shipping News is definitely in my top-five favorite novels, and I’ve read Brokeback Mountain twice. Her writing is so tight as to be practically flawless. Proulx’s prose contains a muted quality that makes writing look so easy, but what she accomplishes is so absolutely difficult. It’s safe to say I count her as one of my influences when it comes to how I attempt to craft my sentences.

    As for love the type of love scenes I prefer in a novel, a lot will depend on my mood. Craftful restraint has its place as does unbridled explicitness.
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    • I see we’re on the same page again Jeri! Annie Proulx’s writing is so flawless its sometimes painful to read. In fact when I first read the Shipping News I can clearly remember thinking it was the best novel I’d read in years.
      I can go both ways on love in a novel, but I think unless the writer is 110% sure they can write erotica, my thought is the less said the better. After all the largest sex organ is the brain. Thanks so much for your comment:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..#Muse media #Annie Proulx on LoveMy Profile

  4. Conveying love and deep passion without coming off like shlock is an art form. When it works, it’s nothing short of brilliant, bringing tears and smiles. I love the story of Brokeback Mountain despite the outcome (I am a notorious big baby, wanting all happy endings).

    The popularity of the film in a culture that isn’t always open to various sexual orientations speaks volumes about Anne Proulx’s skill as a writer and what you can transcend if you can speak to the humanity at the heart of the story.
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    • Oh there are never any happy endings in the books I read Debra???? but I can understand wanting them. And I agree , love can be portrayed as Schlick very , very easily.
      Annie prou.lx really broke ground with this book and it was amazing how Ang Lee, as Jeri noted made it as true to the writing as any film can be. Pioneers the pair of them. Thanks so much for your comment:-)
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  5. Hi A.K.
    Wonderful post… I totally agree with Proulx when she says that “Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write”… Reading is so important, true that and I am grateful to my High School Literature teachers still nowadays as they planted my personal seed of love for books and grammar (not even in spanish but also in english).
    I truly enjoyed the way you described Proulx’s writing and the way she manages to capture intense senses of passions and desire among characters that have not seen each other for a long time.
    “Making every word count” and “repeating phrases” seem to be opposite writing resources… However a writer must know how to create meanings and even leitmotifs which operate as a sort of joint to connect actions, places, time and characters.
    Your post here is a great proof of how a concise and ready-witted feature captures readers!… Truly glad to came across it tonight. Thanks for sharing and best wishes to you, Aquileana 🙂
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    • Such a wonderful comment Aquileana- thankyou so much for such thoughtful insight. I think repetition can be effective & still be every word necessary if used correctly, but it takes a master like Annie Proulx to use it efficiently . I’m truly flattered by your comment. Thankyou so much:-)

  6. I had seen the movie Brokeback Mountain, but not read the book. But I must say after reading that one paragraph, I will have to go get it. A couple of my favorite love stories in the book and movie adaptation are the story of Inman and Ada in Cold Mountain and Noah and Allie in The Notebook. Still tear up everytime.

    • I’ve been hearing a lot about The Notebook recently so I clearly need to check it out. And neither have u seen Cold Mountain. So thanks fir those two recommendations Susan. I think once a sad film gets under your skin it stays there. Each time I’ve seen the Titanic a tiny part if me hopes Jack won’t die this time!!!

  7. What a fabulous paragraph. The visual imagery grabs your emotions and she accelerates their need for each other with the run-on sentences. Not even time to take a breath. It takes a special talent to write like that. I loved the movie — it’s one of my favorites — although I hadn’t read her novella. I felt an almost personal loss when one of the movie’s stars, Heath Ledger, died at such a young age.
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    • Hi Jeanette – I’ve just noticed that my reply to you from a few days ago did not stick- sorry about that..Annie Proulx’s imagery is indeed breathtaking, and I think her sparse style enhances this. I felt the same when Heath Ledger died too, and I’m sure it was because of his role in the movie. Thanks so much for your comment.
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  8. Enjoyed the video Andrew. Love is well described in words. Loved it really!
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    • I found the video really interesting too and I’d not heard that before about her talk before about watching the guy in the bar, and thinking how different living life as a gay man in an isolated place like that might be. But it’s Annie Proulx’s prose that is really so stunning. Thanks so much for stopping by Atish. Hope to see you again:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..#Muse media #Annie Proulx on LoveMy Profile

  9. Brokeback Mountain was nice movie , but I have not read the book. But I really liked the paragraph. It shows deep love between two people. The way the scene was described , I felt as I was watching them meeting and greeting each other enthusiastically. It was nice to know about Anne Proulx and watch her interview.

    Thank you for a great post.
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  10. I am not much for love stories, but I did just read Brokeback Mountain recently in the short stories class I am in right now.
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    • I’m typically not a big one for love stories per se either, but this was so well written and the subject matter brought in issues of homophobia and isolation etc. Plus it was a “cowboy’ way of life still present today I was not familiar with. And you leave us with the cliffhanger of saying you read the book, but not what you thought about it Jon!!!
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..#Muse media #Annie Proulx on LoveMy Profile

      • This one was a bit more pornagraphic than what I want in a cowboy story. To me it felt like the graphic detail in a few scenes were done more for sensationalism than for story.

        If it wasn’t required reading for my class it is one I would never have read.

        There have been a few writers and stories I have read through this class that I am glad I read them (many of these stories are outside my normal reading areas). Some were great, some were …meh (this being one of them), and some were so far removed from anything I would want to read.

        I recently read Everyday Use from Alice Walker and that one was perfect. The story surprised me considering She is so far removed from the stuff I prefer to read.
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        • Well, I see why you didn’t say earlier what you thought of it! We all have our own likes & dislikes in literature, an this is one where we have opposing views. But how boring would it be if we all agreed. I can understand it might not be what everyone wants to read in a cowboy story, but I actually thought the sex scenes were understated, rather than pornographic. But again, we can agree to disagree on that. Your course sounds great and anything that forces us to read material we might not otherwise is always a good thing. There is always something to learn. Thanks so much for sharing your honest opinion Jon – I really appreciate it:-)
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