‘Brokeback Mountain’ by Annie Proulx

Okay, this is not a recent discovery. I read it at least once a year, for its technical deftness and the gut punch of its emotions. Sometimes I write the first line of each section on a piece of paper, trying to figure out how Proulx managed to string the decades together with such ease. The balance of scene and summary is perfect. There’s a bit where she describes how the bodies of Ennis and Jack have changed over the years – broken noses healed crooked, teeth filed down, moustaches grown, accents shifting. And it’s just so moving. I think it was the first story that ever made me cry. There’s something devastating about the clash between the lovers’ wordless feelings and so-called traditional wisdom – “If you can’t fix it, you’ve got to stand it.”

First published in The New Yorker, October, 1997. Collected in Close Range: Wyoming Stories, Harper Perennial, 1999

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