Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx recently spoke to The Paris Review for a piece titled The Art of Fiction No. 199, and what she had to say about the 1997 short story and 2005 movie was nothing short of startling. Among other things, the author says that the reaction to the movie adaptation is one of the reasons she keeps the gates locked at her sprawling ranch.
It’s not the reason some might jump to, though — she doesn’t have to keep her gates locked because of angry homophobes who want to give her correction. Instead, she says that men who wish the story’d had a happy ending just won’t leave her alone.
“And one of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can’t bear the way it ends—they just can’t stand it. So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild.”
Brokeback Mountain wasn’t a problem for the author before the movie came out, she says.
“”I wish I’d never written the story. It’s just been the cause of hassle and problems and irritation since the film came out. Before the film it was all right.”
The Brokeback Mountain author goes on to explain that there are people offended by the story existing — “In Wyoming they won’t read it,” she says. Still, it’s the people who send her new endings for the story, hoping she’ll suddenly realize she didn’t mean Brokeback Mountain to end that way after all and ‘fix’ the story.
Despite however many readers and viewers were disappointed with the ending, Rotten Tomatoes shows that the majority of critics and viewers enjoyed it. It carries an 87 percent positive rating and has numerous positive reviews.
Of course, none of that has any bearing on the experience the author of Brokeback Mountain reports. She says she’s never had that problem with any other story.
“No, I haven’t had the same sort of problem with anything else I’ve ever written. Nothing else. People saw it as a story about two cowboys. It was never about two cowboys.”
She says people who read or watch Brokeback Mountain and see it as a story of those two individuals are missing a lot of the picture.
“They can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis. It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it.””
In fact, she says, an opera is being made of the story, and while she was tempted to refuse to participate, she feared to do so.
“…but then I figured that one of these idiots who loves happy endings would come along and start messing with it. I want to keep the story as it is. It’s a strong story and it shouldn’t be mangled into everybody lives happily ever after.”
The Brokeback Mountain author says she hopes this project will help her exorcise the characters and get Jack and Ennis out of her life.