Book Review – Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain
Annie Proulx
Paperback
Published 1997

So, I saw the movie, and when I saw the book on the bargain shelf at my favorite used bookstore, I was a little surprised to discover that Brokeback Mountain was a story before it was a script. And, it was like 5 cents, so, I picked it up.

This story is about 10k, by my estimate, which makes it the very high end of a short story or a novelette, depending on who you ask. And that count is only an estimate (and there was maths involved) so I’m just going to call it a story. Plus, it was originally published in both the New Yorker and a short story collection.

The story is really basic. Two ranch hands have one summer and then wish they had more time and do and don’t and… if you are at all familliar with the movie, you’ll understand – it’s no wonder they built a movie out of here, there isn’t much more than an idea.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of dialect and in some cases, even reading it out loud didn’t help and I ended up skimming over what was said. Also, Annie’s writing style is… not anything I’m a fan of, and there were a lot of sentences that felt like poorly structured and/or run-on monstrosities and I just wanted to take my red pen to it.

At least with this one, I can see why they got a movie idea from it, but the story needs a crapload of help.
2/5. Rent the movie instead.

Writer Wednesday – Natasha Troop

Natasha grew up in Southern California and received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Comparative Literature. She also holds Masters Degrees in both Secondary Education and Creative Writing. Natasha currently lives in the Phoenix area with her spouse, son, daughter and menagerie of pets, including a Basset named Moose and a very overprotective collie dog. Aside from writing and teaching high school students to love theatre.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m Natasha Troop…basically.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
Briefly, I live in Glendale, AZ with my spouse, my son and daughter, our five cats, two dog and a guinea pig. I make money teaching high school Theatre Arts and English where I get to practice my other art form, making plays. I have degrees in Comparative Literature, Teaching, Creative Writing and am working on one in Educational Information and Technology. I’m originally from Southern California and was originally considered to be male by some doctor but have recently corrected that perception.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I used to write lots and lots of little plays. Then I wrote some screenplays including a vampire flick that Lions Gate Films picked up, played with and then put on the shelf before giving it back to me and it is now being adapted into a graphic novel. I’ve published two novels, Lakebridge: Spring and Lakebridge: Summer. There are no vampires in either of them, but people tell me they are scary, so I’ll go with that as a reasonable descriptor. I think they are rather funny myself, but I laugh in the face of fear. “Ha! Fear! I laugh at thee!” Or something like that…

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m working on Lakebridge: Autumn at the moment. It’s my goal to finish the cycle, meaning Lakebridge: Winter will complete the story of Stansbury as I want to tell it. I do hope I become famous and beloved enough that other people will write Stansbury stories, too. Maybe some Stansbury “ship” or slash or whatever. I’d like to read it, but not write it. When I’m done in Stansbury, I’m gonna build me a pyramid in the Arizona desert.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Two. When I was very young, I read a book called Supership (which I have just looked up on Amazon to discover was not a thriller as I imagined in retrospect that it might be but actually a history of oil tankers…I now want to write a thriller called Supership…damned you Neil Mostert!), reading for words and not understanding, apparently. I also remember reading a book called Fire Sale which had a character named Captain Fuck. Seriously. I wrote a book report on it and talked about how Captain Fuck was my favorite character and, needless to say, meetings were held between my teacher and mother regarding my reading material.

What are your three favorite books?
Can anyone actually answer this? Okay. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Foucault’s Pendulum and Tir Na n’Og by Marni Troop.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
Usually I’m stuck in four or five. Right now, I’m reading The Master and Margarita, Oath of Fealty, The Book of Paul, and the second book in the Tir Na n’Og saga.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
Sadly fall asleep…I used to have greater endurance as a reader. Getting older, you know.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Re-read! People should re-read my books all the time. They shouldn’t read anything else. Just my books. Over and over. I wish I had more time to re-read the books I love and read all the new books I want to love.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Depends who is recommending it and how much they pressure me to read it.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very! Read Tir Na n’Og Book One. Book two is coming soon. Also, read the Riser Saga by Becca Smith. Anything by Robert Fleet, too.

What do you look for in a good book?
A fine collection of well placed words. Seriously, I read a lot of different things, but it always comes down to the quality of the writing. The best story, told poorly, is wasted on me.

Why do you write?
To make millions of dollars and be worshipped by fans and have them write ship or slash fiction about my…okay, maybe not that. It’s something I’m actually good at doing and so to not do it would leave me with little that I’m actually good at doing.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A professional fire watcher. I really wish this was something I could be, actually.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My life, the world around me…my crazy little cat who runs into walls. I see things and read things and it occurs to me to include them in my stories.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I can actually sit down and not only write novels, but finish them. It’s an endurance thing, really. I never thought I could make it through one and now I’m plowing through the third.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
People tend to be impressed when they’ve discovered you’ve published a novel. They then proceed to tell you about the ones that they are working on. So it seems to me people in my life view my writing career as license to talk about the writing careers they would like to have. I’m their excuse for wistful self-reflection.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
Perhaps that we live to listen to others wistfully self-reflect about their own desires to be a writer?

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Grammar.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Yes! I optioned a script to Lions Gate Films and didn’t immediately knock on every lit agent’s door and instead let that opportunity just fly away…it was a mistake at the time, too. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I would love to be involved in a television series based on my novels. More than anything, I would love that.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I make sweet love to them. Seriously, if you are my fan, I will send you cookies. I love my fans.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
My fans would be surprised to know nothing about me. I am the least surprising person because I will tell you or them anything they want to know.

Anything else we should know?
Should know? My blood is now 50% coffee, meaning that if any of my fans are also vampires (I do hope I have some vampire fans…and that they look like Eric Northman), my blood is caffeinated.

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Links you may be interested in:

Lakebridge: Summer

Paperback link: http://www.amazon.com/Lakebridge-Summer-Natasha-Troop/dp/1475124120

eBook link: http://www.amazon.com/Lakebridge-Summer-ebook/dp/B007QOS5D2

Lakebridge: Spring

Paperback link:  http://www.amazon.com/Lakebridge-Spring-Natasha-Troop/dp/1461122503

eBook link:  http://www.amazon.com/Lakebridge-Supernatural-Literary-Fiction-ebook/dp/B005067PJS

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