Annie Proulx: Sore Loser, Stupid Bitch

You don’t usually get Pulitzers for nothing. Shipping News is a damn fine novel, a masterpiece of structure, technique and style. This sort of thing is not usually anywhere near my cup of tea but I (as a would-be writer who had to read it for a class) learned a lot from it.

Sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but all those posturing their contempt for literary writing over it are saying a whole lot more about themselves than they are her writing. You are allowed not to like a book or a writer without name-calling.

I tried The Shipping News and found it damn near unreadable. Someone tipped me Brokeback Mountain long before the movie and gave me a photocopy of the original New Yorker piece. I read it despite my misgivings, basically because it was short, and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I will probably try The Shipping News again.

How do you know if someone is “posturing” their contempt or has genuine contempt?

And how do you know if their contempt is for “literary writing” (some people call that “literature”) or just for one book? And where do you get the idea that a reader can’t disparage a single volume of prize-winning literature (even in jest) without disparaging the very concept of “literary writing”? (Incidentally, some people call that “literature.”)

That I found that book to be a trice self indulgent and precious is my take on that book. If that says a whole lot more about me than it does about her, I can’t wait to find out what you learned.

I liked The Shipping News.

I learned a fuck of a lot about writing including the use of unusual sentence construction, overall voice and characterisation through dialogue. I appreciated her adept touch with multiple interlinking themes and sub-plots. If you can’t tell the difference between ‘a book I didn’t enjoy’ and ‘bad writing’ that’s your problem not hers or mine.

Hold on, let’s back up. You said that people “are saying a lot more about themseleves than they are about her writing,” suggests that since I found Shipping to be a trice over-written, I’ve said more about myself than I have about Ms. Prioux. This is what I’d like to know.

What if I did, actually, think it was badly written? What then? What if I’m from the Ernest Hemingway school of short, clear sentences? What if I found passages to be eye-rollingly self-indulgent? What if I didn’t wonder what meanings existed in the supposed semantic gaps, but thought she was just throwing nice-sounding words into a mixer? What if I… gasp… wasn’t impressed? What then? What does that say about me? That I’m a philistine? An ass? An illiterate rube? A redneck? Please, tell me what it says to myself if I read a book and come to an informed judgment that’s different than yours. I can’t wait.

Well you’d be wrong. She writes extremely well, just in a style you don’t prefer. It’s not my cup of tea and I would go for Hemingway too but as a writer myself I can see and acknowledge her mastery of her craft and learn from it.

And that’s what I mean by posturing. By all means say you don’t like the book but don’t extend that to a claim that the writing is bad or accuse the people who like it of being pseudo-intellectuals. That just makes you seem a narrow minded philistine.

The wolrd is full of great art I don’t like, don’t understand or maybe are not in a life position to appreciate.

I’ve no doubt I would not have enjoyed SN 20 years ago but now I’m 50, having had certain experiences, I find I can empathise with the characters and see aspects of my own life illumined and informed by the story. I can learn something about life from it and you can’t ask of more from an artist than that.

To dismiss a Pulitzer Prize winning author’s writing in the terms used in this thread does say more about the people doing it than the writer.

You don’t like the book - that’s totally okay with me. To go on and say:

just reveals a narrow and absolutist judgementalism that denies the judgement and aesthetic of others.

Well, it was also a joke, you ass.

So you say now. I take it as backtracking in the absence of smilies such as, for instance, this one. :wink:

Which in the continued absence of a ‘read poster’s mind’ plug-in for Firefox can be used to signify you are joking.

The overrated hack spelt lager wrong, that’s all.

How can she be so upset when she stole the idea of the movie from South Park anyway? :wink:

Seriously the South Park Independant Film Festival Episode had The Gay Cowboy movie in it years before the Brokeback movie. It was on again last night in fact.


The short story was published in 1997. The South Park episode first aired in 1998.

“Oh My God - they plaigarised Annie.” :stuck_out_tongue:

I learned a fuck of a lot about writing including the use of unusual sentence construction, overall voice and characterisation through dialogue./QUOTE]
Could you explain a few things for me:

a “fuck of a lot” is how much more than “a lot”?
is construction differently of always a good sentences thing?
does overall voice refer to anthropomorphism of clothing?
who, other than the characters, has dialogue in other books?

[QUOTE=don’t ask]

  1. Damn straight.
  2. Not always but can be. In my hands generally not. In the hands of a Pulitzer - yes.
  3. No idea what you mean
  4. Ditto. Are you trying to be funny and/or clever and I’m missing it?


For ‘Damn straight’ read ‘damn straight - it’s a fuck of a lot more’.

Don’t you know how Movies work. It isn’t about the book. Its the movie pitch. South Park made the pitch first and that “self serving bitch” stole it from them. :wink:



My reading of this book was in the context of a Creative Writing course at the university I work at taught by a very talented and well-respected UK author. In that context, and as a considerably less able writer wanting to learn more, The Shipping News taught me a lot about writing - even if I had to have my nose rubbed firmly in it first by the tutor.

And then sent it back through a wormhole to 1997. Women - you can’t take your eyes off them for a bloody minute can you. :wink:


Overalls - surely you call them that too, thus talking overalls.
Just fooling around - obviously only characters have dialogue. I think George V. Higgins, Elmore Leonard or Ed McBain would play Proulx off a break in regard to establishing character through the use of dialogue.

[QUOTE=don’t ask]

Maybe. Apples and Oranges though. Elmore Leonard’s style would not suit the story she tells or achieve the effects she achieves any more than you could write an Ed McBain story in her style.

Not familiar with Higgins but Leonard in particular is a superb writer. I read a book of his western short stories and felt like giving up writing.