Edna Annie Proulx (pronounced /pruː/) (born August 22, 1935) is an American journalist and author. Her second novel, The Shipping News (1993), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for fiction in 1994, and was made into a film in 2001. Her short story "Brokeback Mountain" was adapted as an Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning major motion picture released in 2005.
She won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her first novel, Postcards. She has written most of her stories and books simply as Annie Proulx, but has also used the names E. Annie Proulx and E.A. Proulx.
Personal life and writing
Annie Proulx was born in Norwich
, to parents of French-Canadian
ancestry. She graduated from Deering High School
in Portland, Maine
, then attended Colby College
"for a short period in the 1950s." She later returned to school, studying at the University of Vermont
from 1966 to 1969, and graduated cum laude
and Phi Beta Kappa
with a Bachelor of Arts
in History in 1969. She got her Master of Arts
from Sir George Williams University
(now Concordia University) in Montreal
in 1973 and pursued, but did not complete, her Ph.D.
Starting as a journalist
, her first published work of fiction is thought to be "The Customs Lounge", a science fiction
story published in the September 1963 issue of If
, under the byline "E.A. Proulx". She subsequently published stories in Gray's Sporting Journal
in the late 1970s, eventually publishing her first collection in 1988 and her first novel in 1992. Subsequently, she has been awarded NEA
(in 1992) and Guggenheim
(in 1993) fellowships.
A few years after receiving much attention for The Shipping News, she had the following comment on her celebrity status: "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.
In 1997, Annie Proulx was awarded the Dos Passos Prize. Proulx has twice won the O. Henry Prize for the year's best short story. In 1998, she won for "Brokeback Mountain," which had appeared in The New Yorker on October 13, 1997. Proulx won again the following year for "The Mud Below," which appeared in The New Yorker June 22 and 29, 1999. Both appear in her 1999 collection of short stories, Close Range: Wyoming Stories. The lead story in this collection, entitled "The Half-Skinned Steer," was selected by author Garrison Keillor for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories 1998, (Proulx herself edited the 1997 edition of this series) and later by novelist John Updike for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century (1999). In 2001 Proulx was one of the writers heavily criticized by Brian Reynolds Myers in his polemical work A Reader's Manifesto.
Proulx lived for more than thirty years in Vermont, has married and divorced three times, and has three sons and a daughter (named Jon, Gillis, Morgan, and Sylvia). In 1994, she moved to Wyoming, where she currently resides, spending part of the year in northern Newfoundland on a small cove adjacent to L'Anse aux Meadows.
- Sweet and Hard Cider: Making It, Using It and Enjoying It (1980), ISBN 0-88266-242-2
- Heartsongs and Other Stories (1988), ISBN 0-684-18717-5 (reprint ISBN 0-02-036075-4)
- Postcards (1992), ISBN 0-684-83368-9
- The Shipping News (1993), ISBN 0-684-85791-X
- Accordion Crimes (1996), ISBN 0-684-19548-8
- Close Range: Wyoming Stories (1999), ISBN 0-684-85222-5
- That Old Ace in the Hole (2002), ISBN 0-684-81307-6
- Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2 (2004), ISBN 0-7432-5799-5
- Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 (2008), ISBN 978-1416571667
Literary Awards and Prize Collections:
- 2004—Aga Khan Prize for Fiction for "The Wamsutter Wolf"
- 2002—Best Foreign Language Novels of 2002 / Best American Novel Award, Chinese Publishing Association and Peoples' Literature Publishing House (That Old Ace in the Hole)
- 2000—WILLA Literary Award, Women Writing the West
- 2000—Borders Original Voices Award in Fiction (Close Range, Wyoming Stories)
- 2000—"People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water," Best American Short Stories 2000
- 2000—English-Speaking Union's Ambassador Book Award (Close Range, Wyoming Stories)
- 2000—The New Yorker Book Award Best Fiction 1999 (Close Range, Wyoming Stories)
- 1999—"Half-Skinned Steer" inc. Best American Short Stories of the Century, ed. J. Updike
- 1999—"The Bunchgrass Edge of the World," The Best American Short Stories 1999
- 1999—"The Mud Below," O. Henry Awards Prize Stories 1999
- 1998—"Brokeback Mountain" National Magazine Award
- 1998—"Brokeback Mountain" inc. O. Henry Awards Prize Stories 1998
- 1998—"Half-Skinned Steer" inc. Best American Short Stories 1998
- 1997—John Dos Passos Prize for Literature (for body of work)
- 1997—Shortlisted for the 1997 Orange Prize (Accordion Crimes)
- 1994—Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (The Shipping News)
- 1994—National Book Award for fiction (The Shipping News)
- 1993—Irish Times International Fiction Prize (The Shipping News)
- 1993—Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction (The Shipping News)
- 1993—PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (Postcards)
Criticism of Academy Awards
After the film adaptation of Brokeback Mountain lost the best picture Oscar to Crash at the 2006 Academy Awards, Proulx wrote a column, published in the British newspaper The Guardian
, in which she criticized the awards show. Among other complaints, Proulx pondered whether Philip Seymour Hoffman
's portrayal of writer Truman Capote, though "brilliant," was in fact little more than "mimicry." She wrote that the Academy members were a "dim LA crowd" and exhibited "insufferable self-importance" when they did not select the film based on her short story as Best Picture. Proulx also referred to Crash as "Trash" and likened the evening to "a small-town talent-show night." She suggested that the awards attempted to be safely "controversial," but were by implication homophobic for not honoring Brokeback Mountain, which had won most major awards (including the Golden Globe
for Best Drama) in the lead-up to the Oscars. She also called the performance of the Oscar-winning song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" a "violent" and "atrocious act.
The essay brought considerable attention, and some strong invective, to bear on the author's sentiments in the wake of the Academy Awards broadcast.