Review: Brokeback Mountain (short story)

To get to the point, I’m sure everyone has heard of Annie Proulx‘s Brokeback Mountain by now, if only because of the film. And seriously, this is short, shorter than Minority Report and multitudes of other book-to-movie adaptations. But let’s leave the film aside for now, if that’s at all possible.

Brokeback Mountain is probably something I would never have picked up unless it had been recommended to me or otherwise brought to my attention. It’s been a very long time since I read something for leisure that I could have used as a break from study. If I were to compare it to other short stories in the same genre, I’d say that Gin no Requiem moved me more, cowboys and Westerns never interested me all that much, being all about ‘men’s men’, so to speak. But it’s just those stereotypes that make BM interesting, and the simple way that Proulx tells it is so much more convincing than any Western I could name.

Being a short story, BM concentrates on just one thing, the characters, as the reader follows Ennis through two decades of his life. The descriptions are brutally honest, and the simplicity of Proulx’s prose and the dialogue of her characters encompases who they are and where they live. There were times when I simply did not understand what was actually being said, because of the slang (makes me wonder what it’d be like reading Trainspotting). One doesn’t speed-read BM unless one speaks the same language code. If I was to be pedantic, I’d criticise the lack of ‘ums’ etc, but does it really matter? It’s through the simplicity that the fears that they skirt around, the reactions of the people around them, the fates of those who came before them, the social codes that demand that Ennis and Jack bury their love for each other, convincingly lead to a tragic end. And one knew what had to be coming.

Brokeback Mountain is a story that, based on subject matter alone, will appeal to some and absolutely disgust others. However, if one moves beyond such prejudice, it’s a story that shouldn’t be considered aesthetically or cognitively, but rather reacted to emotionally, and the opening and ending vignettes should be enough to make some people tear. Perhaps there is one complaint I have to make…it’s too brief, though perhaps that is yet another aspect of BM that reflects life and love in general.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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