[SS] Brokeback Mountain – Annie Proulx (plus a little of something else)
January 16, 2010 § 22 Comments
First, I was surprised that Brokeback Mountain is a short story. I was always under the impression that it’s this big, long novel, so I was surprised to see how small and thin it was (just 58 pages?!). But anyway, I’m starting to get the hang of liking short stories, and so was hoping that I’d really enjoy this one. In fact, you could probably say that I started the book with very high expectations.
It’s quite difficult not to have expectations, really, considering how much it was publicised when it was made into a movie.
So anyway, there I was, reading the book, expecting to be impressed by the story and the prose. After about 20 pages, I was left wondering why I wasn’t sucked into the story yet. I mean, it’s a short story, so it’s going to be ending real soon. Shouldn’t I be really into it by now?
And then I got to page 44. I don’t usually quote entire paragraphs, especially when they include language I don’t use. But this was it:
“Try this one,” said Jack, ‘and I’ll say it just one time. Tell you what, we could a had a good life together, a fuckin real good life. You wouldn’t do it, Ennis, so what we got now is Brokeback Mountain. Everything built on that. It’s all we got, boy, fuckin all, so I hope you know that if you don’t never know the rest. Count the damn few times we been together in twenty years. Measure the fuckin short leash you keep me on, then ask me about Mexico and then tell me you’ll kill me for needin it and not hardly never gettin it. You got no fuckin idea how bad it gets. I’m not you. I can’t make it on a couple of high-altitude fucks once or twice a year. You’re too much for me, Ennis, you son of a whoreson bitch. I wish I knew how to quit you.”
That’s where I sucked in my breath a little. And that’s the paragraph I spent the next 5 to 10 minutes reading and rereading. At that point, it was like all the things that happened in the previous pages, things that seemed so bland and insignificant when I read them, all came to life. Suddenly I saw stolen glances and hidden passion and forbidden love. It was like, Ka-Pow!
Sometimes I wonder if that’s what short stories are supposed to be like. Just that one paragraph, or that one phrase, to send you flying.
For: LGBT Challenge, Book-Movie Challenge
I started the movie with some reservations. I’ve heard that it is a good movie, and I just didn’t want it to end up like The Virgin Suicides for me. So I was careful. I told myself to just sit back and enjoy the movie for its own.
At first, I couldn’t accept that both Ennis and Jack were such lean looking men. It was my first impression from the book that they were anything but lean and good-looking. Not ugly, but just not so.. movie-star. (I don’t know why I’m complaining about this, seeing that it’s a movie, so of course the actors are movie stars..) Ennis didn’t feel like Ennis, and Jack most definitely didn’t feel like Jack.
But then the scenes started coming. And very soon (say, 10 minutes?) I was hooked. I saw on screen what I saw in my mind’s eye when I was reading the book: the stolen glances, the secret longing. The view of the mountains and the sheep, the camp and the fire, they made phrases from the book just spring out in my head.
I think this is one of the rare cases where the movie helped me visualise the book, and the book enhanced my experience of the movie. The movie did feel a little too long, just slightly over 2 hours, but still beautifully done.
Now, if only all movies adapted from books were like this…
Note: Page 2 is where the ‘something else’ is..
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