Tag Archives: Annie Proulx

387 Short Stories : Day 69 : Story 69 : Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx Title: Brokeback Mountain
Author: Annie Proulx

There is always this time when you are incomplete if you have not read a particular short story. For me, that time existed till I read Brokeback Mountain, way back in 2002. We all know of Brokeback Mountain as probably the “gay” movie; however it is more than just that.

Brokeback Mountain to me is just love between men. It is there. Long and still and never changes, not even after death. Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist are hired to herd sheep on Brokeback Mountain and that is how it all begins. They marry, have kids and yet their love for each other only deepens. They cannot do anything about it, but meet once in four years or so. And then there is the twist in the tale that changes everything.

Brokeback Mountain is one of the most tender love stories you will ever read. I cannot do any justice to it. I can only tell you to read it and cry.

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Top 20 Favourite Books of Nadeem Aslam

I have loved and enjoyed reading Nadeem Aslam’s books. I have always been curious as to what authors read and what compels them to perhaps classify what they read as their favourite reads over time. With this, I start this series with Nadeem Aslam’s favourite 20 books published within his lifetime, each of which he has read at least twice.

The list is amazing and might I add extremely compelling. You would want to pick up each book and read it at least once. Here goes the list. From here on, every word and emotion is that of Nadeem Aslam’s. Thank you Nadeem for this list.

1982 – Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

In just over 100 pages Marquez tells us everything about men, women, love, hatred, corruption and fate. It includes the great line: ‘Life resembles bad literature.’ After Jude the Obscure it is quite possibly the most despairing novel I know. And it is brilliant.

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1986 – An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

An Artist of the Floating World

An old man looks back over his life – and Ishiguro builds up an indelible picture of his fears and anxieties through everyday conversations with his daughters, grandson, people in the neighbourhood. There is very little description and yet you imagine each scene vividly.

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1987 – The Enigma of Arrival by VS Naipaul

The Enigma of Arrival

A book full of long rich sentences that recall Proust, and anticipate Sebald. It made me look deeply at the English countryside I live in. I believe mercy is greater than justice; and so I do not agree with Naipaul’s political outlook, but having read everything he has ever published I think this is one of his enduring works.

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1987 – Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love in the Time of Cholera

A story about love and other diseases of the flesh. A book full of nouns – river, parrot, ship, almonds… This is the master at the height of his powers, naming the world into being. Everything Marquez touches becomes magical: if he were to remove the frame from around a mirror, the mirror would most certainly flow down the wall like water.

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1987 – Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved

There are subjects on which the world maintains a silence closely resembling sin. Beloved speaks about one such sin. It is a terrifying book, and yet it makes rapturous eloquent use of the sky and land and tree and food and clothing. Beyond everything else it’s a book about how people talk: the dialogue is musical, elastic, by turns funny and serious. Dazzling.

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1988 – The Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz

The Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz

In any crisis I turn to Milosz. What to do when you have to accept a savage emotional wound? Where to find the courage to trust another human being after betrayal? When you want to know how you deserve such a fate? Milosz’s verses address something that remains mysteriously inconsolable within me.

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1990 – Omeros by Derek Walcott

Omeros

Walcott – one of the greatest poets in the English language – relocates Homer to the Caribbean, because the past belongs not just to those who created it – it belongs to everyone, everywhere. So the Greek heroes become poor fishermen and Helen is a servant girl. It is profound, beautiful and endlessly inventive. It’ll even break your heart.

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1992 – The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

The English Patient

The first 120 pages of this book are the holiest pages I know – prose whose beauty eases the poverty of the world; startling images; and characters you care about like your family. The book speaks of love and lovelessness, about the acceptance of loss, and how compared with love almost everything in life is easy.

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1993 – All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
1994 – The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy

The Border Trilogy

Most people behave badly because they ask too little of themselves. In these books McCarthy – who is one of my great loves – writes about very young men hurled into unknown landscapes, a world frequently absent of radiance. They survive or they die – but they hold onto their integrity, because only the gentle are ever really strong. And McCarthy’s prose is the closest thing I know to an electric shock. It is energy made visible; what Saul Bellow called ‘life giving and death dealing sentences.’

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1995 – Sabbath’s Theatre by Philip Roth

Sabbath's Theater

From the first sentence on this is a funny, serious, and frightening book – the story of a man at the end of his tether. Dirty, ugly, fearing the loss of his sexual prowess, Sabbath wanders around New England and New York like Shakespeare ranting at street corners, screaming the song of the land.

1997 – American Pastoral by Philip Roth

American Pastoral

A book about a man whose daughter is a terrorist, and how he tries to hold onto the ideas of justice and dignity when the smell of blood is in the air and it’s the age of prominent madmen. I disagree strongly with the political stance of this book, but as a novel it contains some of the most intense dramatic scenes in recent years.

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1997 – Taoos Chaman ki Mynah by Naiyer Masud

Taoos Chaman Ki Myna

A novella from the Urdu master of Lukhnow. A man steals a bird from his employer’s menagerie for his little daughter. This is a hear-quickening tale. I don’t think I understand all of its mysteries but perhaps that is how it should be; if you see a statue of a veiled maiden, you mustn’t try to chisel off the veil in the hope of uncovering the face underneath.

1997 – The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things

The key text about all of India’s yesterdays and todays. It is almost elemental. There are a 100,000 miles of blood vessels in a human body, and every drop of blood in mine is grateful to Arundhati Roy for having written this. By turns sorrowing and ecstatic, it possesses a touch that has a sting of starlight to it.

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1997 – Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain

Not only a painful love story, but also a fierce attack on the economic disparities within the USA. From its astonishing and brilliant first paragraph onwards, Proulx tells us that the two lovers are foredoomed not solely because they are homosexual in an unforgiving landscape, but because that they are poor, men who cannot really afford luxuries like love. The need to make a living and support their families is also what keeps the two men from coming together.

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2001 – My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

My Name is Red

The greatest book by the one of the very greatest novelists of our time. A murder mystery, a monograph on miniature painting, a love story, a rich and subversive inquiry into the past. Its heroine, Shekure, is one of the best portraits of a woman from the Islamic word that I know.

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2004 – Gilead by Marilynne Ronbinson

Gilead

The letter an old priest writes to his very young son, who will not read it until long after the priest is dead. Every single paragraph of this book is full of quiet wisdom – as though a form of music has been found to express silence.

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2004 – An End to Suffering by Pankaj Mishra

An End to Suffering

Pankaj Mishra’s writing is what I turn to first when I need to make sense of the world. And this book is one of the loveliest and most serious meditations on what Buddha brought into the world.

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2007 – The Collected Stories of Intizar Hussein

Exactly 50 years’ worth of stories from the Pakistani master. Read sequentially, these stories chart every single social, historical and cultural event Pakistan has been through in the last half century. Magnificent.

2008 – 2666 by Roberto Bolano

2666

The third world novel as it should be written today – post Naipaul, post Marquez. Part 4 of this book alone should ensure Bolano’s place among the immortals. Please read it.

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Book Review: Bird Cloud: A Memoir of Place by Annie Proulx

Title: Bird Cloud
Author: Annie Proulx
Publisher: Fourth Estate, Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0007231997
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoirs
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Annie Proulx is well-known for books such as “The Shipping News” and “Accordion Crimes” and for her most famous short-story, “Brokeback Mountain”. There is no doubt about the fact that she writes like a dream. There this is quality to her writing which holds on to you and doesn’t let go. I hadn’t read any of her non-fiction books till about two weeks ago, when I started reading, “Bird Cloud: A Memoir of Place”.

When I first picked up or came to know of the book, I thought it was fiction. It did not cross my mind that it would be non-fiction and maybe that is why even though I had it with me for a long time, I read it only recently, because I am apprehensive of reading non-fiction. More so, when it is about the American countryside (in this case Wyoming), which I know nothing about. However, as it happens with books I don’t expect to like al that much, this one also took me by surprise and I actually enjoyed it.

“Bird Cloud” grows on you – almost page by page, layer by layer and pulls you right into itself and charms you at the end of it. The book centers on Proulx’s house called, “Bird Cloud” (hence the title) which she decided to build when she bought 600 acres of Wyoming landscape and at the same time let me also not mislead you. It isn’t as much about the house as it is about Proulx’s ancestry and Wyoming history attached to it. She speaks of her forefathers, her discovery to her roots, her plans of building the house, poetic quotations, her thoughts on the wind and the weather, and the animals and birds that make up the landscape.

This is the essence of the book and at the same time it is not a memoir. It isn’t personal. It is about life I guess. The book is divided into three sections: In the first she speaks of her family and how she wants to find a balance in herself of wanting the perfect home and the need to wander, the second section is about how she thought she would build her perfect home and the third is about her life in that place.

The book is uneven and yet the writing is strong and grabs you from the first page. It has this rough quality to it, which I guess is needed when writing about family and home and at the same time it doesn’t get emotional. It is distant and views things as they are. “Bird Cloud” for me was an exploration into family and the places we come to call home. It extended to being beyond just another read. It made me think of homes I have lived in and the surroundings and memories attached to each place. Maybe that is why it connected the way it did. A great read, slow nonetheless, perfect for people who want to connect to the idea of home and life.


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