Author Topic: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!  (Read 6381 times)

Offline Front-Ranger

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 26,161
  • Brokeback got us good.
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2008, 12:48:21 pm »
Hey, br. Patrick, thanks for reminding us about Daniel's book DreamFilm. I have it and have enjoyed reading it very much. I am not a poetry lover in general but I really like the poetry that is interspersed among the essays. And, Truman, thank you for mentioning Postcards. I happen to have it in my briefcase right now!! Postcards was actually the first work of Annie Proulx's that I ever read. I was laid up in the hospital at the time and if not, I might not have had the fortitude to finish it. Brutal as it is (the novel begins with a murder) there is something haunting about the book, and the characters have stayed with me for a long time. That book helped me understand my father whose character was molded during the Depression.

Truman is right about Annie's origins as a technical writer. If you look at the story as published in the New Yorker (11 years ago next Monday) there is a box on the second page with a sketch of Annie and a little information about her past. She started writing fiction for men's magazines (yes, really!) and adopted the pen name E. A. Proulx because she needed to disguise the fact that she is a woman. Brokeback Mountain and the book Close Range that it is a part of was her first work published as just "Annie Proulx." So, perhaps that has something to do with her irascibility on the occasion of her interview with the Wall Street Journal. She is required to do these interviews when her books are published and it is clear that it is not one of her favorite things to do. She had just received a particularly irritating letter and fan fiction manuscript from someone who wanted to correct things he thought she had gotten wrong in the story, because she is a woman.

Annie Proulx maintains correspondences with people and has been very gracious and nurturing. I have heard of several instances, and the few correspondences I've been involved in have always received very personal and thoughtful replies written in longhand. There are people who she corresponds with by letter and by phone, and when I have seen her in person, she has always been patient, friendly, and respectful, and she has never left an event I've attended until she has spoken with every person who wanted to talk with her.

One last thing, if you listen to her words, what really irritates her is the fan fiction writers demanding praise and feedback from her. Since she obviously does not need feedback herself it's really hard for her to be hounded by these needy people who feel like they deserve her undivided attention. Personally, I'd rather see her writing more stories!!
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Front-Ranger

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 26,161
  • Brokeback got us good.
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2008, 04:49:51 pm »
And I for one hope that she will share the other BBM stories with us. But that seems less and less likely.

What other BBM stories, friend?? Do tell more!!
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Shakesthecoffecan

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost 5000+ Posts Club
  • *******
  • Posts: 9,564
  • Those were the days, Alberta 2007.
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2008, 07:11:38 pm »
I might need to go back and listen to it again, but I rmemebr in that interview there is a plane flying over and correct me if I am wrong, she seems to want it to crash?

Bothersome beyond words. Bury the dead horse. Bring on the next story.
"It was only you in my life, and it will always be only you, Jack, I swear."

Offline magicmountain

  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,677
  • Fire from heaven
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2008, 08:26:09 pm »
When you visit a good restaurant you enjoy the taste of the food and benefit from its nutrition. Why worry if the cook is having a hissy fit out back in the kitchen?
Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all. - Alexander the Great

Offline MountainMan

  • Sr. Ranch Hand
  • ***
  • Posts: 104
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2008, 10:37:57 pm »
When you visit a good restaurant you enjoy the taste of the food and benefit from its nutrition. Why worry if the cook is having a hissy fit out back in the kitchen?

 ;D

I've never thought that the fanfic "changes" the end of the story- that's kind of the point, right? that the fanfic is a kind of "alternate universe"? Anyway, that's kind of how I think about that sort of stuff.....I admit that when I first heard of it, especially slash, I thought it was kind of......disrespectful? (unintentionally of course) - either to the original actors/writers (be it Star Trek, HP, BBM, whatever). But, that ORIGINAL still exists; it's still out there in its original form and nothing else changes that. And honestly, I think of the fanfic as completely separate from - but perhaps also completely connected to???  :-\  - the "original."

At the same time, anything I've ever written (or thought about writing) would never"disrespect" (what I think Annie might say) the original story/characters/author/etc by "changing" the ending....but only because I've never really felt inspired to do so. I dunno....maybe I just kind of like the idea of fitting fanfic into the original plotline since it's like, "oh hey, this COULD have been part of the original." Then again, people who extend the story or "change" the ending are saying pretty much the same thing I guess.

So here's my two cents that I already said over in "Annie Annie Annie" where the interview was discussed:

Quote
"Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are my intellectual property"

...yawn.

Quote
"beneath every mangled rewrite is the unspoken assumption that because they are men they can write this story better than a woman can"

Yawn, part II. I think that's an assumption on your part, Annie....


I think Annie Proulx DOES have a problem with ownership, afer all, why would she have had her publisher send cease and desist orders to little old fanfic writers like me and threaten to get CBS's lawyers after me?  Even though fan fiction falls in the large grey area of inellectual property law, I don't have the money to put where my mouth is so I obeyed the cease and desist order, and ultimately I am glad I wrote an original story instead of hanging it on Annie Proulx's coat rack. 

...exactly. It seems like she's more concerned with preserving her characters (her story and ending) than anything else - I mean, surely it's not about the money one way or the other......either she doesn't need/want it or she could profit from "collaborative" fanfic. The interview excerpts make her sound....well, not good. Arrogant, I guess. Although I do sympathize with what appears to be her desire to preserve the integrity of her original story.....and (even tho I THINK this has prob been discussed to death elsewhere) I can understand her labeling certain attempts (ahem, slash)  as "pornish".

(for the record, I'm not "anti-slash".)

I'm going to have to read some more of her work now (I can't remember how much of Close Range I read), because every interview I've come across makes her sound incredibly pretentious. I dunno; maybe we are (I am) just bouncing off the film too much.......I feel as if she gave us this beautiful story with these incredible characters but doesn't seem to give a damn about them. I wonder how she really feels about the movie, since she didn't do the screenplay.

From what I've come across, I can't figure out her background either; it's kind of a mystery. "Hard knocks" tho, I think not - more like upper class liberal arts major (but "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle"). Some details are there, but those don't really reveal much about her as a person.....I feel like I might understand her work and her better if I knew more than the info from a few interview quotes and wikipedia.

Aside from info from good ol' wikipedia :) here's a couple old (1997, 1999) interviews:

http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/factfict/eapint.htm
http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/05/23/specials/proulx-home.html

and a biography - http://www.notablebiographies.com/Pe-Pu/Proulx-E-Annie.html

Cheers!
 8)

Offline Front-Ranger

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 26,161
  • Brokeback got us good.
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #25 on: October 11, 2008, 01:09:07 pm »
In order to begin commemorating the publication of this story 11 years ago, I listened to this interview. I found it very interesting although I didn't learn much that was new to me. It was so nice to hear Annie speaking from her home in Wyoming; she and the interviewer were sitting outside and you could occasionally hear a bird singing. She talked about her craft such as mentioning how she often writes the ending first before the rest of the story. She talks about The Shipping News for the first 17 minutes, about how she wanted to write a novel with a happy ending because people criticized her for writing "dark" works. However, the ending that she came up with she defines as "an absence of pain."

The format of the interview is probably not the best for Annie because she was answering questions that had been emailed or texted into the BBC. Several times she reacted negatively to these questions, and it was clear that some of the questioners had not even read the story. For instance, the first few paragraphs of the story (which Annie reads at about the 18 minute mark) made a point of stating that Ennis and Jack were poor kids, not glorified cowboys. But a questionnaire asked whether she was trying to tear down stereotypes by making them cowboys. She points out that she deliberately makes them herd sheep. But many people who haven't studied the West and history don't know that sheepmen and cowboys are like oil and water.

The comment about the plane came up just after Annie talked about having to sell her home in Newfoundland after tour directors started driving vans of tourists past her house and her privacy was destroyed. The interviewer mentioned that she definitely wouldn't have that problem in her new house in Wyoming. Oh, but she does still have that problem, since a nosy person in a private plane has a habit of flying over her house. If that plane should crash, she might feel kind of bad, she allowed. She is a very private person who likes quiet and aloneness, and the glare of noteriety is the botheration that she refers to.

There are many other things said in this interview and it's too bad that just a small part of it is keeping people from listening. I particularly like Annie's answer to the last question, which was "Why do you write?"
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

retropian

  • Guest
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2008, 04:55:33 am »
Reading thru the comments here, it occurred to me that part of the problem, is us. The Fans. we live in a celebrity culture where those who are our "heroes", in film, or theater or literature or music are expected to behave in certain ways. Ways that we the 'fans' feel are becoming to a person we admire, such as appearing to be gracious and grateful for fans adulation. At what point though does that adulation and attention become bothersome and intrusive? It must be subjective to each individual. In Annie Proulx case, writing is a very personal and private act conducted in solitude. That is probably true for most artists, painters, composers and writers. There are many artists in times past that behaved abominably towards others, but their creations transcended their limitations as human beings. This is how I view Annie Proulx. BBM the story is a singular work genius. It's a distillation of everything she has written. It is her penultimate work (at least so far! She may very well write something that eclipses BBM! I don't mean to imply she's reached her pinnacle.). That doesn't mean she is a perfect person. She is an imperfect human being who was able in some mysterious way to create a small story that had enormous reverberations. Reverberations that perhaps were and are beyond her wildest expectations and coping abilities. We should accept that and move on. I'm still looking forward to reading her new work.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2008, 09:14:19 pm by retropian »

injest

  • Guest
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2008, 02:21:37 pm »
Reading thru the comments here, it occurred to me that part of the problem, is us. The Fans. we live in a celebrity culture where those who are our "heroes", in film, or theater or literature or music are expected to behave in certain ways. Ways that we the 'fans' feel are becoming to a person we admire, such as appearing to be gracious and grateful for fans adulation. At what point though does that adulation and attention become bothersome and intrusive? It must be subjective to each individual. In Annie Proulx case, writing is a very personal and private act conducted in solitude. That is probably true for most artists, painters, composers and writers. There are many artists in times past that behaved abominably towards others, but their creations transcended their limitations as human beings. This is how I view Annie Proulx. BBM the story is a singular work genius. It's a distillation of everything she has written. It is her penultimate work. That doesn't mean she is a perfect person. She is an imperfect human being who was able in some mysterious way to create a small story that had enormous reverberations. Reverberations that perhaps were and are beyond her wildest expectations and coping abilities. We should accept that and move on. I'm still looking forward to reading her new work.

I am reminded of an actor (cant remember his name but I am SURE that someone will rush in to tell it and correct my memory  ::) ) but after recieving a lifetime honor made the comment that he was sorry he hadnt' died yet...kind of making the joke that how could you give a LIFETIME award to someone who was still producing...

Ms Proulx is still writing and creating....and we are telling her she will never be as good as she was when she wrote BBM and even then she didnt' do TOO good a job, since there are people that insist on rewriting it for her.

I would be angry too.


Offline Front-Ranger

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 26,161
  • Brokeback got us good.
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2008, 07:11:41 pm »
I think you hit the nail on the head there, Jess.

And maybe AP is trying to prime us for her most recent collection of work which is some of her darkest stuff yet.
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline BelAir

  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,401
Re: BBC World Service Book Club - Annie Proulx's Newest Revelations!
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2008, 11:04:21 pm »
Thank you Phillip, for posting this interview. It was very moving hearing Proulx read her own words.

When I first heard of her recent comments about BBM I was not surprised. I had heard about the cease and desist letters. That she sees the attention directed at her because of this one story as a curse, well I bet it is. She describes herself as private and her experience with them happened long before the rest of us encountered these two ranch hands. She has written about the power they have in her "Getting Moovied" essay, and I don't presume to know her mind but I know a little bit about my own. In my mind they are cut of the same cloth as Holden Caufield, as Paul Bunyon, as Uncle Remus. A story so compelling it inters humanities psyche and its characters so compelling our minds find them useful in the stories we tell ourselves. Much of this, I think, comes from the movie and not the short story. She even admits this is often then case in said essay.

Proulx gave life to something very powerful, and with any act of creation there is a price to pay. This story has impacted her life in a way very different than our experience with it. How do you prepare for something like that? A private person who for years has scratched out a living writing technical articles, as anonymous as that ranch hand at the Mint Bar, and then one day your name is on the tongues of millions. I think she has done pretty good, I won't judge her. For better or worse she will always be known by the lowest common denominator as the author of "The Gay Cowboy Story". Type cast, with segments of the population passing various judgement upon her, never bothering, or even trying to read her other works. I would be resentful too. (One of the things I thought as the interview started was that they are stuck on those two, BBM and the Shipping News. I think me and Front Ranger are the only two people I know who have read Postcards and that is a shame. A damn shame.)

Bottom line: Annie Proulx is not Brokeback Mountain. Let be.

I read Postcards!!!!  (And I thought it was good, too.)

 ;)
" a thirst for life, for love, and for truth..."