Short Story Month Dec. 3: Proulx

“Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx

Quote of Note: “Like vast clouds of steam from thermal springs in winter the years of things unsaid and now unsayable — admissions, declarations, shames, guilts, fears — rose around them. Ennis stood as if heart-shot, face grey and deep-lined, grimacing, eyes screwed shut, fists clenched, legs caving, hit the ground on his knees.”

The language Proulx uses in this short story is phenomenal; the way that the descriptions of the landscape weave in and out of descriptions of people, both combining to carry a deeper meaning about the relationships. The quote above especially illustrates that. It also shows how excellently Proulx uses lists to build a complete picture. The first half of the story goes into detail about Jack and Ennis’s day-to-day routine at Brokeback Mountain and Proulx uses her lists, to in some ways minimize their trivial daily actions, but in other ways to build up a clearer, more authentic picture of the characters’ experience. In the above quote, however, the list is percussive and builds, instead, suspense and a sense of Ennis’s anger and frustration.