Review of Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
Set in a landscape where rambling about emotions and feelings comes secondary to barely surviving, these stories are oblivious to philosophical angst, emotional wreckage and what not. The main purpose of life here is to go on, from one day to another. The writing language is as dry as the landscape, where the characters don’t whisper, mutter, gasp and do the other literary stuff and the reader can almost feel the brutal landscape through the writing.
Among the 11 short stories here, some are engrossing withelaborate sceneries and dry humor while others are rather dull, focusing too much on the rough edges, too drawn out at places. Had it not been for Brokeback Mountain, I would have suggested reading the stories for their uniqueness and the gritty endurance that we do not come across often in literature.
The words by Annie Proulx create a trail of dirt that is vacuumed and protected to leave an impact on their respective resting places. The story is bleached with moral obligations, threshold of profanity, and mandatory responsibilities. There exists peace in solemnity (here by solemnity I mean the union of souls), one might not be physically alone but with his/her compatible alter ego, one can be at the ease of being in your own company.
Emotions by Jack and Ennis play havoc with the so called societal mores, even the hiatus couldn’t break the thread of passion that jostled them long before. Yes, it is a love story but a no nonsense one. It has dignity, rawness, compassion, innocence, stupidity and above all a sense of honesty. The whole freaking business of loving and love making, irrespective of any guidelines has been explicitly narrated by Annie. It was not the queerness in them that brought them together, but rather the spark was a result of their one to one emotional chemistry.
Then again, should one read only Brokeback Mountain and leave the rest of the stories. Probably not. What I felt was the other stories introduced us to life at Wyoming in such ways that we were able to understand and appreciate the choices made by Jack and Ennis.
Brokeback Mountain, needless to say, is epic.Perhaps the best story written about love and the only one that made me cry! It is not so much ‘a story’ about love, it is love itself. A love without hope, without fantasies and declarations and still, a love so all-encompassing that it is enough in itself.
The writing is almost minimal and that’s what makes it magical. The joy of seeing your love after years, the struggle to go on in adverse circumstances, the hopelessness of the situation and the absolute despair of separation – all are captured in a regular, matter-of-fact way. It will break your heart, make you feel utterly helpless and keep you thinking for days, weeks and forever. And just maybe, it will help you being less judgmental, letting the other people be.