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.

Comments

  1. Strepsi says

    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.

  2. Rad says

    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.

  3. An Non says

    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.

  4. crispy says

    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?

  5. chims says

    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.

  6. chims says

    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.

  7. says

    “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.

  8. says

    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.

  9. DD says

    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…

  10. paul says

    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.

  11. Gianpiero says

    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.

  12. Dback says

    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.

  13. Charles says

    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.

  14. Rob says

    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.

  15. Michael W. says

    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.

  16. Tony says

    “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.

  17. says

    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.

  18. mammab says

    “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.

  19. Strepsi says

    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

  20. says

    I totally understand Annie Proulx’s irritation. Her stories are her creations, and with each of them she’s trying to effect something in the reader. Change the story and you lose that. These fan fic hacks are fucking with her baby.

  21. LJ says

    This is so funny! But I’ll bet authors get crap like this all the time in this day and age when everyone thinks they have some sort of creative talent when they really don’t.

    I’ll bet most of these guys sending her these “fix-it” stories can’t write their way out of a paper bag, and I KNOW most of what she receives is perverted trash if it comes from gay men. I just find it weird that straight men would even bother.
    If I were her, though, I wouldn’t even bother speaking out about it. I’d just continue to trash everything people sent. It’d stop eventually. But I don’t blame her for her annoyance at all these people butchering her story and then sending her what they probably think is a better version simply because they wrote it themselves. I don’t think it’s Proulx who has the ego problem so much as the people sending her that crap, lol. I would like to read one or two though if I could stomach it.

  22. says

    While Proulx has every right to her opinion (and frustration) about how people try to re-write her fiction, it puts her in some pretty distinguished company of authors whose work has so moved people who are inclined to imagine the lives of the characters of a work outside of the context of the original story.

    I expect that the manga and/or graphic novel version of BM should be coming soon…

  23. j.d. says

    “What is she talking about? Huge majority of slash writers are STRAIGHT WOMEN.”

    Yes, but it’s not slash if the characters are actually gay. And presumably Proulx can tell the difference between male and female names in the manuscript byline.

  24. candideinnc says

    Oh, how awful! People think her story hits so close to their home they have to improve on it! Get over it. Be grateful people care enough to think twice about your very little story. Thank them for their thoughts and get over your too big ego.

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