Proulx, E. Annie

Proulx, E. Annie (Edna Annie Proulx) pro͞o [key], 1935–, American writer, b. Norwich, Conn., grad. Univ. of Vermont (B.A., 1969), Sir George Williams (now Concordia) Univ., Montreal (M.A., 1973). She was a journalist, wrote nonfiction articles for numerous publications, and was the author of several “how-to” books before beginning to write fiction in her fifties. Her stories and novels often feature barren landscapes, tough idiosyncratic characters, and a frequently bleak humor. Her first two volumes of fiction, Heart Songs and Other Stories (1988) and the novel Postcards (1992), won considerable critical praise. The Shipping News (1993), a novel that exhibits a superb sense of place and character, won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Set mainly in a desolate seaside community in Newfoundland, it tells of a widowed father's attempt to create a home.

After the novel Accordion Crimes (1996), Proulx, who had moved to Wyoming in 1995, turned to the American West as the setting and motif for three volumes of stories, Close Range (1999), Bad Dirt (2004), and Fine Just the Way It Is (2008). In spare yet finely wrought prose, these tales observe the harsh and hardscrabble lives of Wyoming natives with shrewdness, wry humor, and tough-minded irony. Her best-known story is probably “Brokeback Mountain” (1997), the tale of the doomed love of two Wyoming cowboys; it was made into an Oscar-winning film (2005) by director Ang Lee and an opera (2014) by Charles Wuorinen (libretto by Proulx). Western themes also mark the novel That Old Ace in the Hole (2002), which is set in the Southwest. Bird Cloud (2011) is a nonfiction account of the frustrating process of building her rural Wyoming home. Her fifth novel, Barkskins (2016), is an environmental epic focused on the greed and destruction of a logging family over 300 years.

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