Impressions/. “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx

The first memory I have of “Brokeback Mountain” was in fifth grade, when the movie came out. I remember running around and playing “smear the queer” with the neighborhood boys. The boy, whose house we were often at, was disgusted by the movie. His parents had watched it the night prior and he had caught glimpses of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal going at it.

This marked a weird point in my childhood because I knew that I felt uncomfortable around my friends but I also felt accepted. That summer, I remember playing soccer almost everyday. It was one of the few times as a kid that I felt masculine. Yet, I remember the terror of being the “queer” and trying to avoid getting tackled.

The impression the neighbor boy left on me pushed me away from watching it. Well, and also I was 11 years old at the time. It took almost ten more years before I saw the movie. I watched it with reluctance and promptly discarded it with disgust.

“Why do all gay movies end with murder or suicide?” I remember asking. I was new to queer cinema and I felt that I had wasted the last two hours of my life.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Annie Proulx and saw that she wrote a short story titled “Brokeback Mountain”. For whatever reason, I decided to buy the book on Kindle and I read it tonight.

First impression; it’s a lot more sexually explicit that I thought it would be. Most popular queer writing is cleaned up for the general population. It’s rare to find a sex scene with two men that’s more than a sentence or two.

Second impression; this is a very short, short story. The plot covers almost twenty years but it barely totals 32 pages. I feel a little disappointed that it wasn’t expanded but I understand why Proulx kept it short. While it could have been longer, it didn’t need to be. Ennis and Jack’s romance was, at best, a sliver of romances throughout their lifetimes. It would have dragged if those slivers were expanded into wedges.

Overall, I enjoyed the short story. I’m intrigued by Proulx’s ability to write in dialect. Usually dialect writing is distracting if not done well. She’s uncouth in her descriptions of living in Wyoming in the mid-1960s. I felt taken in by the story.

I took my time reading it and it only took about 30 minutes. If you run across a copy, I definitely recommend it.

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