My Favorite Author: Annie Proulx

 Proulx spent her childhood traipsing outside and reading, especially science fiction and books by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. As an adolescent, she was devoted to William Faulkner, S.J. Perelman, and Dante. She said, “Almost every book I’ve read has left its mark.”

“I only backed into writing in order to make a living. And then I discovered that I could actually do it.”

She wrote mostly about rural life and the men who worked farms, mills, and oil rigs. Her writing style was spare and poetic. She once described a female character as “thin as a folded dollar bill, her hand as narrow and cold as a trout.”

The Shipping News (1993), about a sad man named Quoyle who moves to a small fishing village in Newfoundland. The novel wasn’t hard to write. She says, “I wrote that one because I was madly in love with Newfoundland, so for me it was a joy.” Proulx was inspired to write the book after finding an old copy of The Ashley Book of Knots (1944) at a yard sale. She bought it for a dollar and was fascinated by the illustrations and quotes, which she ended up using for chapter headings in the book. The Shipping News won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was a best-seller. It was made into a film in (1992), as was her short story Brokeback Mountain (1997), about two cowboys who fall in love and experience homophobia. Her success enabled Proulx to buy a 640-acre farm in Wyoming called Bird Cloud, where she lived for several years.

“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different worlds on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”

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