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Stop Sending Annie Proulx Your Extended Gyllenhaal-Ledger Fantasies

Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx isn't a fan of Brokeback fan fiction. She gives her thoughts on it to the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview:

Proulx2"'Brokeback Mountain' has had little effect on my writing life, but is the source of constant irritation in my private life. There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story. They constantly send ghastly manuscripts and pornish rewrites of the story to me, expecting me to reply with praise and applause for 'fixing' the story. They certainly don't get the message that if you can't fix it you've got to stand it. Most of these 'fix-it' tales have the character Ennis finding a husky boyfriend and living happily ever after, or discovering the character Jack is not really dead after all, or having the two men's children meet and marry, etc., etc. Nearly all of these remedial writers are men, and most of them begin, 'I'm not gay but….' They do not understand the original story, they know nothing of copyright infringement—i.e., that the characters Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are my intellectual property—and, beneath every mangled rewrite is the unspoken assumption that because they are men they can write this story better than a woman can. They have not a clue that the original 'Brokeback Mountain' was part of a collection of stories about Wyoming exploring mores and myths."

Last week I posted about Proulx's new collection of stories, one of which visits similar two-lonely-cowboys-in-a-pup-tent territory.

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Comments

  1. Haha! Go Annie!
    She is 100% honest - that's why she's a brilliant writer.

    I mean, it's one thing to imagine, even to write, fan fiction -- but to send it to her? What on earth do people think she's possibly going to do with it?

    Plus LOL@ "Most of these 'fix-it' tales have the character Ennis finding a husky boyfriend"

    Love her.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Sep 17, 2008 8:53:02 AM


  2. She seems a little uptight.

    Posted by: Michael W. | Sep 17, 2008 8:55:16 AM


  3. Go Annie!

    And I thought Trekkies were bad...

    It only took, what? 40 years for Star Trek to indulge the gay fan base and allow fan-produced stories to be published and produced (for the Internet) with gay characters in the forefront.

    Posted by: Rad | Sep 17, 2008 9:05:27 AM



  4. Annie, get your gun.

    Posted by: Sandol | Sep 17, 2008 9:08:46 AM


  5. She's always been a little crusty, but she's dead on with this one. I particularly like the "I'm not gay, but . . ."

    She really needs to post the most overwrought and hysterical ones somewhere.

    Posted by: An Non | Sep 17, 2008 9:09:16 AM


  6. Dear Annie,
    So sorry about that. I just thought that if Jack and Ennis discovered poppers and lube, it would really turn their relationship around. I guess that double-fisting scene was a bit over-the-top. Ok if I make some edits and send it to you again?

    Posted by: crispy | Sep 17, 2008 9:24:49 AM


  7. Crispy, LMAO!

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Sep 17, 2008 9:37:31 AM


  8. Her story struck a chord with so many people. Men (and women, I bet) still wounded and suffering. The novella and the movie adaptation did so much to salve those wounds. People are so desperate for some gay happiness. How about a little gay empathy and understanding, instead of ego-driven outrage, Annie.

    Posted by: chims | Sep 17, 2008 9:49:48 AM


  9. Her story struck a chord with so many people. Men (and women, I bet) still wounded and suffering. The novella and the movie adaptation did so much to salve those wounds. People are so desperate for some gay happiness. How about a little gay empathy and understanding, instead of ego-driven outrage, Annie.

    Posted by: chims | Sep 17, 2008 9:50:45 AM


  10. Michael W said: "She seems a little uptight."

    Oh, relax Michael. I'm sure one of the rewrites you sent in was one of the few she actually liked.

    Posted by: Adam | Sep 17, 2008 9:54:14 AM


  11. she is priceless.

    @CRISPY, shut up! LMAO!

    Posted by: nic | Sep 17, 2008 10:06:52 AM


  12. "Nearly all of these remedial writers are men, and most of them begin, 'I'm not gay but….' "

    Maybe that's what Larry Craig and Mark Foley have been doing in their spare time?

    That Annie is a prickly one. Anyone who's actually read something by her or about her would know that gay fantasies with happy endings ain't her cup o' tea.

    Posted by: Ernie | Sep 17, 2008 10:23:55 AM


  13. What a nsaty fuck she is. "My story touched people and they have the gall to respond to it!" Only someone hopelessly naive could send an author fanfic. Only a hopelessly heartless author would be offended by this rather than flattered. And if they aren't trying to publish their crap, copyright is completely irrelevant, something a fanfic writing idiot might not know, but an author like Proulx certainly should. How much money has she made off these people? Can't she hire someone to sort through her mail if this is that big a deal?

    Hate her more than I used to.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Sep 17, 2008 10:25:34 AM


  14. Ennis sunk onto his bed in his lonely caravan and put his head in his hands. How long had it been? He missed Jack, the only person he had ever really loved. He laid the bloody shirt out on the bed and traced the outline with his fingers. Tears blotted the fabric, and Ennis pushed his face down into the shirt, breathing in hard, hoping to catch the scent of Jack woven into the fibres. And he could almost smell him. For a second, Ennis imagined that the shirt became filled with that lithe torso, Jack's muscled thighs were corporeal beneath the blankets and the rough, calloused hands were on the back of Ennis' head, between his legs...

    And so it was. Ennis sprung back in surprise to find that he had not imagined it - Jack Twist was back! Jack pulled Ennis towards him and engaged him in a long fresh kiss.
    "But how?" Ennis barely mumbled, yet still delighting in the taste of Jack's spit on his lips.
    "Don't you know anything, Ennis?" Jack said, the familiar smile crinkling his eyes. "If you wish for something hard enough, it comes true."
    "Well can you guess what I'm wishing for now?" Ennis asked, an eyebrow raised archly.
    Jack put his hand on Ennis' warm groin and slowly began to unbutton the fly...

    Posted by: DD | Sep 17, 2008 10:35:31 AM


  15. I'm gonna go with Landon on this. Why would this sort of thing provoke anger and irritation from her? Fan fiction is bizarro and hilarious as far as I'm concerned. I'd certainly get a laugh out of it if I was her. What a crabass.

    Does anyone know if she's anti-gay in some way? She's certainly anti-fan.

    Posted by: paul | Sep 17, 2008 10:37:35 AM


  16. I have a lot of respect for the original story, as well as for the movie adaptation.

    However, the conceit of an author asserting that there is a particular way in which a reader should "understand the original story" is insupportable. To whine about intellectual property violations with regard to unpublished stories is similarly laughable. And isn't criticizing those who preface their submissions with "I'm not gay but..." equivalent to knocking her own situation?

    "Constant irritation in [her] private life." She needs to get over her own success.

    Posted by: Gianpiero | Sep 17, 2008 10:45:09 AM


  17. I went to a reading Annie did at Reed College last summer wearing my "Brokeback got me good" T-shirt, and stood in line to meet her. She laughed at the shirt, signed my copy of Variety (with the post-Oscar ad), as well as another book. She couldn't have been more gracious or classy.

    Having said that, she's a tough, even grim writer who avoids happy endings like the plague, and might be accused of being a tad misanthropic. (Read "Tits Up In A Ditch" from her latest collection.) However, she writes what she's seen in Wyoming over the past X number of years, and life on the frontier is often brutal, cruel and unfair. (Matthew Shepard, anyone?) So was what happened to Jack and Ennis, but the magic of the story (and film) is that for possibly the first time, straight people "got" that--it was a tragic love story that transcended its boundaries.

    Now, I've known some of the fanfic writers (however, the ones I know from davecullen.com are women), and the smart, classy ones do it to provide additional context to the story or "fill in the gaps" (like the cabin weekend that Ennis mentions in passing). Even the "alternate reality" stories are usually done with care because folks love the characters so much. They have disclaimers on them saying that they are not for profit and that Anne Proulx owns the characters. Anyone who is dumb enough to write purply fanfic that completely violates her vision and SEND IT TO HER--"Look! I improved your story!--isn't playing with a full deck.

    Posted by: Dback | Sep 17, 2008 10:52:13 AM


  18. She's obviously not anti-gay, probably like most good writers, she is just anti-bad writing and that is all this fan fiction is. Corny, poorly written tripe. Most people are not good writers and if they write, shouldn't send it to someone who is actually good unless they want to know how bad they are.

    And people bashing her for being 'prickly'-she's obviously a critical thinker, which makes her prickly and probably contributes to her ability to write so powerfully. It always seems to me that the prickly misanthropic people have more to offer in that regard than the sociable easygoing ones. It's just the price we have to pay for her work.

    Posted by: Charles | Sep 17, 2008 11:17:41 AM


  19. She had me until she said, "beneath every mangled rewrite is the unspoken assumption that because they are men they can write this story better than a woman can."

    Really? Every rewrite? Knee-jerk accusations of sexism don't help anyone's cause.

    Posted by: Rob | Sep 17, 2008 11:59:45 AM


  20. I agree with Landon and Paul on this. Why would she be outraged instead of flattered? People do this all the time to fictional characters. If they're not trying to get it published, where's the harm? J.K. Rowling doesn't get bent out of shape by all the slash fiction out there involving Harry and Draco, it's only when someone tries to publish that she gets litigious. Strange.

    Posted by: Michael W. | Sep 17, 2008 12:04:08 PM


  21. "Nearly all of these remedial writers are men, and most of them begin, 'I'm not gay but….'"

    What is she talking about?

    Huge majority of slash writers are STRAIGHT WOMEN.

    Posted by: Tony | Sep 17, 2008 12:16:55 PM


  22. She wrote a short story that touched people so much that they wrote to her with their own stories (admittedly amateurish) that were inspired by her work. I would be enormously flattered if anything I ever produced had inspired someone to create something.

    And the sexism crap? Please. Save your righteous indignation for actual sexism.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Sep 17, 2008 12:31:00 PM


  23. "They certainly don't get the message that if you can't fix it you've got to stand it."

    That's a funny line in this context - she's prickly, but with a sense of humour.

    So she's an author that is surprised/annoyed that people keep sending her rewrites of her work - is that surprising? Or is it surprising/insulting that she admitted it? Or is it insulting that she called the writing ghastly, or even worse, pornish [porNY surely]?

    The excerpt nails her voice exactly, and I liked it. Definitely not anti homo, or anti fan -- just anti ghastly-porny-BB-rewrite sent to author.

    Posted by: mammab | Sep 17, 2008 12:34:21 PM


  24. Dear Annie, can you please return in the self-addressed envelope, the following manuscripts I sent you:
    CHOKEBACK MOUNTAIN
    BROKEBACK FOUNTAIN
    BAREBACK MAN FUN
    JACK TWISTED
    and
    PUTTING THE 'P' IN ENNIS

    Posted by: Strepsi | Sep 17, 2008 12:38:37 PM


  25. DD and Strepsi, you are both quite funny.

    My ex and I were among the few who found little to like in Brokeback. I guess we're both heartless.

    Posted by: Paul R | Sep 17, 2008 12:56:00 PM


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