Monday, October 27, 2008

Cool Introverts in Literature: Annie Proulx

Congratulations to our reader Yat-Yee, for correctly identifying which very cool introvert author made the statement below:

"I've often thought that if you could have an unlimited library, if they would bring you any book you wanted when you asked, it would be all right to be in prison."

Annie Proulx (pronounced "Proo") is the Pullitzer Prize winning author of what have been called "vividly imagined and boldly idiosyncratic works of fiction" including Heart Songs and Other Stories (1988), Postcards (1992), The Shipping News (1993),  Acordian Crimes (1996), Close Range: Wyoming Stories (1999), That Old Ace in the Whole (2002), and Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2 (2004).  Her newest work just out is Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3.  She is widely known for her famous short story "Brokeback Mountain," which was made into an award-winning and controversial major motion picture.   She was the first woman to win the prestigious PEN/Faulkner book award, for her debut novel Postcards.  Her list of literary awards is nearly endless.

Annie Proulx, now 73, lives alone in Wyoming on 640 acres (sound of introverts sighing in envy) with a mile of riverfront, five miles outside of Saratoga. To get there you head up past Laramie through the Snowy Mountains and Medicine Bow National Forest.  She is surrounded by Black Angus cattle, limestone cliffs and yellow aspen. To do the writing that she does, she needs time and isolation.  Toward the end of a project, she works up to sixteen hours a day.  

She says that she doesn't mind that writing is a solitary pursuit, and that she likes to be alone. "The downside of the writing life is that you are a constant observer of other people's lives.  I was always the one at parties standing against the wall."  

Her first book was published when she was 53 years old (sound of older introverts sighing happily).  "For me, the story falls out of a place, its geology and climate, the flora, fauna, prevailing winds, the weather.  I am not people-centric, and I'm appalled at what human beings have done to the planet . . . "

Annie Proulx is not a major fan of the media and has worked hard to keep her world private and real. She generally refuses interviews.  Winning the Pulitzer Prize brought a great deal of attention to her door.  "It's not good for one's view of human nature, that's for sure. You begin to see, when invitations are coming from festivals and colleges to come read (for an hour for a hefty sum of money), that the institutions are head-hunting for trophy writers. Most don't particularly care about your writing or what you're trying to say. You're there as a human object, one that has won a prize. It gives you a very odd, meat-rack kind of sensation."

She next plans to spend this coming winter in a little apartment in Albuquerque doing research at the University of Mexico.  Her excitement at the prospect of that is "palpable." And she is looking forward to the change in her landscape.  

The Shrinking Violets are very pleased to induct Ms. Annie Proulx into our Coolest Introverts in Literature Hall of Fame.  Gosh, just wait 'til she hears this!   Pulitzer- Schmulitzer, we're talking SVP Hall of Fame, people!

Yat-Yee is the winner of Lynn Biederman and Michelle Baldini's debut YA novel, Unraveling.  (Which occasionally appears conjoined with my Ten Lucky Things... middle grade novel.)   Yat-Yee, if you'll email me your address I'll get this marvelous book off to you.

Later, friends--
Mary Hershey


tanita✿davis said...

Six hundred and forty acres..>!? Oh. My. Word.

I have *got* to write enough books to own that kind of empty real estate. What a lovely thought.

I like her comments on the trophy-hunting thing as well; it's an odd perspective to know you're valued merely for your prize and not your words. I love that she's perspicacious enough to observe this...

Yat-Yee said...

Thanks, Mary and Robin! Even though I don't really deserve it because I had the help of Ms. Google. But I'll take the book and after I read it, write a review and generally tell the world about it.

53 y.o.

Yes, I still have some time...

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

The nicest thing about making it into the Introverts' Hall of Fame is that we don't make you attend a ceremony in person ... because then we'd all have to go, too. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to get to the point in my writing where I can refuse interviews, too. Although the idea of living by myself sounds REALLY good oftentimes (I'm still a newlywed at just a little over 2 yrs), I don't think I could do it on 640 acres in freezing-my-ass-off Wyoming. I think I'd rather have an Enchanted Cottage like SARK (who's SO not an introvert, but I love her anyway).