Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday, 26 May 2006

Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain and other stories

One of the books I've started to read since I've been in Spain is one I picked up here, published to coincide with the recent movie 'Brokeback Mountain' - as well as the short story on which the movie is based it [Close Range Brokeback Mountain And Other Stories] also includes numerous others all set mainly in Wyoming or a few of the surrounding States. I wrote a while back my very brief review of the movie itself - as I said then it left me feeling quite 'angry' and I remember the first time I saw it I walked out of the cinema feeling somewhat stunned, not quite ready to cry, but those feelings were definitely welling up inside of me; it was only when I reached home and began to think about what I had seen that the 'anger' kicked in.

Anyway, I´ve now read the story itself and most of the other stories, too, and they all seem to paint the same kind of picture of a very tough set of circumstances that many rural dwellers in Wyoming (and no doubt many of the other high prairie States) must live with. A few of the stories are so bleak that one wonders why most people don't simply leave for places such as California, Florida or Texas where the climate in winter is not so tough and perhaps people are less at the mercy of the elements (although with Florida's reputation for hurricanes that wouldn't necessarily be perfect either), or indeed why many don't simply slit their wrists - or perhaps they do.

The other factor which strikes me having read Annie Proulx's own words is just how riveting I find her style of writing. A brutal clarity and a way of discussing matters relating to sexual matters, specially those affecting men (hetero- and homo-sexual, both) which I find particularly startling coming from the pen of a woman - I can only imagine that she must have grown up in a family with brothers or possibly has sons of her own, although I tend to think it must be the former because I can hardly believe her own sons would have expressed themselves so explicitly in front of their mother for her to gather the material and thought-processes she needed to write the way she does. The nearest I think I've heard a woman discussing sexual matters so openly before is watching ´the dog woman' doing dog training on television (I don't remember her name I'm afraid) and of course some of my female ´horsey´ friends who certainly talk about sexual matters, breeding, etc. in a fairly uninhibited way - but only so far as it affects animals. I've never before heard/read a woman discussing human male sexual matters in a way that I think captures quite closely the way a man might think privately about such things. That's what's so clever about Annie Proulx's style of writing - completely straightforward and seemingly very authentic.

Now apart from such diversions, I've also spent a couple of days lying on an almost deserted beach in a quiet cove under a palm tree, not far from where I'm staying, taking an occasional cooling dip in the water - apart from one day when I had to ask for help to pull my car out of sand as the beach is down a graded track with only a smallish area of hard graded area near to the sea to park on. As well as doing more practical things such as applying for my 'NIE' (foreigners' identity number), making a Spanish will, renting a mail box, opening a bank account, etc; just a few of the things I will need to get done in the run-up to my little house here being built and handed over. I'm planning to come back here again next winter for about three months and have already arranged to rent a property for that visit, although as I'm planning to bring the dog will be taking the Rosyth/Zeebrugge ferry and travelling down via south Holland where I have marriage relatives. My short visit this time is almost over, though, as I'll be travelling back on Monday reaching home on Tuesday. Salud para el momento!

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