My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: October 13th 1997
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 16+
Genres & Themes: Adult, M/M Romance, Western, Short Story, Sacrifice, Forbidden Love, Historical Romance, True Love, LGBT
Annie Proulx has written some of the most original and brilliant short stories in contemporary literature, and for many readers and reviewers, “Brokeback Mountain” is her masterpiece.
Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two ranch hands, come together when they’re working as sheepherder and camp tender one summer on a range above the tree line. At first, sharing an isolated tent, the attraction is casual, inevitable, but something deeper catches them that summer.
Both men work hard, marry, and have kids because that’s what cowboys do. But over the course of many years and frequent separations this relationship becomes the most important thing in their lives, and they do anything they can to preserve it.
The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for Fiction for its publication of “Brokeback Mountain,” and the story was included in Prize Stories 1998: The O. Henry Awards. In gorgeous and haunting prose, Proulx limns the difficult, dangerous affair between two cowboys that survives everything but the world’s violent intolerance.
The shirt seemed heavy until he saw there was another shirt inside it, the sleeves carefully worked down inside Jack’s sleeves. It was his own plaid shirt, lost, he’d thought, long ago in some damn laundry, his dirty shirt, the pocket ripped, buttons missing, stolen by Jack and hidden here inside Jack’s own shirt, the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one.
Sometimes, I want to cry.
When I hear of cases of gay adolescents and adults who commit suicide because they are harassed, they feel alienated, like outcasts and have absolutely no more strength inside of them, all I want to do is curl up in a corner and
cry, cry, cry
unfair, unfair, unfair.
But crying won’t help.
Everyone should have the right to love freely and be loved back without being pointed at and tyrannized for showing such a beautiful emotion.
We live in an ugly world.
But Jack and Ennis, they live in an uglier one.
What if they hadn’t met? Would my heart still be intact today? But that’s impossible. Fate would have brought them together, if not at Brokeback Mountain, someplace else – some other time, some other day. They would still have felt that indescribable connection and denied their attraction to one another.
Neither of them knows how to ‘‘deal’’ with what’s happening between them, but Jack is determined to get his happy ever after. He wants to settle down with Ennis and start their flawed live together. Ennis… Ennis is lost. He’s afraid, mostly. When he was young, his father made sure he saw the body of the rancher who was tortured to death for being gay.
He never forgot.
Even a fully-grown man can be scared out of his mind and prefer giving up on the most beautiful life he could have with his loved one, for guaranteed security. Therefore, Jack and Ennis don’t agree on the subject of moving in together. Especially now that Ennis has a wife and children – he can’t leave them, so he says.
As much as I wanted to shake Ennis, I understood his reasons for preferring to steer clear of anything that could make him end up like the dead rancher.
Sometimes, love isn’t enough.
Sometimes, sacrifices have to be done to survive.
What a cruel world.
PS. I didn’t mean to end on such a pessimistic note, but this is not a happy story.