Fanfic Makes Proulx Regret Writing “Brokeback Mountain”

Pulitzer Prize winning author Annie Proulx has complained before about the misery  "Brokeback Mountain" fanfic has caused her and now she's doing it  again, this time on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.

"I wish I'd never written it," Proulx says at
her home five miles outside town, looking out enormous windows onto the
river and the limestone cliffs that define her property.

Not because of the people of Saratoga, a town she doesn't think much
of. Not even because the word "brokeback" has been misappropriated, as
in, "Hey, you're not goin' brokeback on me, are you?"

It's all the manuscripts, screenplays and letters sent to her by men
who rewrite or serialize her story, adding new characters, endings and
even successive generations.

Her frustration has been building for a while. She told the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago that "Brokeback Mountain' has had little effect on my writing life, but is the source of constant irritation in my private life."

She lamented that  "remedial writers" are constantly sending "ghastly manuscripts and pornish rewrites of the
story to me, expecting me to reply with praise and applause for
'fixing' the story…they know nothing of
copyright infringement, that the characters Jack Twist and Ennis
Del Mar are my intellectual property."

22 thoughts on “Fanfic Makes Proulx Regret Writing “Brokeback Mountain””

  1. I’m certain I’m not the one you’re trying to bait with yet another fanfic-iz-ebil post Lee, but I’m curious now, who the hell is she talking about? I know of about two communities that house BBM fic and it’s all about the MOVIE. Yep, no one talks really about that little piece of fiction she wrote– it’s all about the actors and the film.
    Sadly, most fans never quote anything from that story she wrote, and yet she keeps hammering on with this same schtick about ‘writers keep sending me’… what writers? Who are these people? How many are there? Sorry, but this old song is getting too much play from her lately–it sounds like someone on a publicity junket in dire need of something to talk about–and since she ain’t got nothing new written, she’s going beat an old horse.
    Sorry to sound assy, but I never liked BBM the film or the story; and I despise it when the media refers to my published graphic novels as Brokeback Manga. That just pisses me off beyond repair. Tell me, who feels for me Lee? (^_^)

  2. “yet another fanfic-iz-ebil post”
    Is there some reason you are incapable of writing “is evil?” Does the English language confuse you or do you enjoy coming across like an illiterate boob? You’re probably one of those idiots who spell God G-A-W-D.
    “No one really talks about that little piece of fiction.”
    I love the snide, contemptible attitude you take towards the work of a Pulitzer prize winning, National Book Award-winning author. Clearly, fanfic is much more worthy of our attention and respect.
    And you’re right. No one really talks about her “little piece of fiction.” They just give it awards, like the O. Henry and National Magazine Award, and make an Oscar-winning movie based on it. Other than that, it’s ignored.
    That’s because everybody is discussing the latest Dr. Who/Farscape cross-over fanfic and anxiously awaiting Dr. Robin Reid’s latest variation on Viggo Mortenson deep-throating Sean Astin.
    “since she ain’t got nothing new written, she’s going beat an old horse.”
    You must have trouble reading. You missed the part in both articles that mentioned that “Fine Just The Way It Is,” her new collection of short stories, has just come out and “Red Desert” is coming soon…which is why she was doing the interviews.

  3. I just find it sad that there seem to be a plethora of people who want to write, but lack originality. I wonder if that phenomenon has been a constant in our culture, only obvious because of technology–or if technology has spawned it?

  4. Sorry, Lee, I’m not buying it. Oh, I believe she said it, and I have no doubt that “Brokeback” fan fiction understandably irritates the piss out of her. (Of course, she always has the option of not opening unsolicited MS from strangers, which is a practice quite a lot of writers follow).
    But she wishes she never wrote it? One can’t help but wonder how much of that magnificent house and its contents was built with whatever they paid her for the rights. And it’s a damn fine story (I’ve read it, and I haven’t seen the movie). As you point out, it’s won a slew of awards. It really put her name on a much bigger map than it had been on before, and I’m betting she’s got more juice with the industry as a result.
    Wishes she’d never wrote it? Please. Frankly, it sounds like she’s being a bit of a drama queen about it.
    I do love the rest of the article, though. it’s definitely worth a read.

  5. That’s not half as sneering and snide as Tina gets talking about Proulx on her blog. (
    Dear Annie Proulx,
    …please have a coke and a smile and stop doing interviews. Not all of us suffer fools either.
    While I’m sick of you going on and on about these remedial writers, I’m getting a little sick of this sort of flambe. Goldberg, you must be in fucktacular shape with all the conclusions you jump to without reading the fine print. Dude, she’s not talking fanfic from the fanfic community – she’s talking about weird male writers sending her shit. Those aren’t fanficcers Lee; those are wannabe writers, sending her shit.
    The truth is no fan-fic writer on the internet gave a labrat’s genitals for that short story she wrote until Ang Lee decided he needed to win an Oscar and Larry McMurty served up the-gay. It was mediocre when Proulx wrote if the first time, but when McMurtry got hold of thatshat BLAMMO, female box-office fangasms!
    That’s the cold truth Lee, all that fic you despise that ANNIE ISN’T TALKING ABOUT, is based on the film and that’s a hard thing to accept, but you gotta try. I’m afraid this battle in your jihad against copyright abusers isn’t going to mean much until Larry steps in and says…I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU LADIES AND YOUR FANFIC COMS. Somehow, I don’t see that happening. (^_-)
    As for Annie…blaming your creative anxieties on male writers fucking with your intellectual soul…well, that gets a 3Xsized bitchplease from me: I’ve had enough of this crap from you.
    I have the utmost respect for any pro creator’s wishes but this is starting to sound like another epic bout of drama-llama syndrome, brought on by a severe case of performance anxiety. ZOMG, what do I write now that could possibly follow up BBM…I know, nothing.
    Let’s summarize, because sometimes my rants spread like buckshot:
    1. Dear Lee: 99.9% of all BBM fic is about the film. No one was writing this shit before that film…let your cognitive soul crunch that up a bit.
    2. Dear Annie: stop attacking male fans who write because your latest glory-hole date with the media doesn’t care about anything new you’ve written, only about all things broken and backed.
    3. Dear Media: I feel we gay erotic comikers have earned that right to wish you had a collective neck so we could hack it through. We are tired of seeing you devalue our genre with the label Brokeback Manga. We don’t like this label. Knock it the fuck off.

  6. JD wrote: “As you point out, it’s won a slew of awards. It really put her name on a much bigger map than it had been on before, and I’m betting she’s got more juice with the industry as a result.”
    Prior to “Brokeback,” she’d already won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize (among other honors) and her novel, “The Shipping News,” was made into a movie. She was already a big name on the map with plenty of juice in the industry. That’s how “Brokeback” got made to begin with. People were drawn to her material and her literary cred. Remember, before “Brokeback,” Ang Lee’s most recent film was the disasterous “Incredible Hulk” and McMurtry & Ossana’s last screenwriting credits was a little-seen TV adaptation of a Frederick Manfred western for TNT. Nobody expected the movie to become the sensation that it was.
    There’s no question that the acclaim and Oscars for “Brokeback” has exposed Proulx to a wider audience, generated more interest in her work, and given her “more juice” in the industry. But she was already a major player in the literary world and her work was already generating heat in Hollywood.

  7. Annie Proulx’s deepest interest at present is the serious literature of the American West. She and my wife corresponded about the late Thomas Savage, who wrote some splendid more or less contemporary literature of the West. (My wife did a monograph on Savage.) Ms. Proulx has every right to feel that fan fiction “revisions” of Brokeback Mountain seriously compromise her work and life, and that this theft of her characters gravely violates her life, her work, her muse, and her spirit. I’ve heard her talk of her work and I believe that her works will transcend the ugly ferment of the character-thieves.

  8. Poster-slash-ranter Skybird — an appropriate name for someone who drops shit bombs on everyone below — tries to distinguish between fanficcers and wannabe writers. As if there were a difference.

  9. Howard, I didn’t write that shitbomb. Tina Anderson did. You have me confused with her. I agree with your sentiment. Her post was a shitbomb and she’s a sad, pathetic fool.

  10. Argh!
    Sending fanfic to the original author? A very big, definite “NO”. If the author was interested, they’d go online and research fanfic to their stories themselves. Which most of them won’t, because they aren’t. At least not in the “oh look what interesting stuff other people have done with my story” sense.
    While fanfic derives from original works, its’ meaning and its’ role is completely different (original: author reflecting on the world as they see it vs. fanfic: audience reflecting on the authors’ work as it influenced them (exploration of alternative meanings down to rejection of the original work)).
    Infliciting your works (wether the original author or other people) on the unwilling and uninterested is just plain rude.

  11. I agree that it’s very rude to force fanfiction on the original author, no matter what they’ve said or haven’t said on the subject. You just don’t cross that line.
    To me, fanfiction and other fan activities have always been meant to just keep around friends and other interested fans. It’s supposed to just be a personal hobby since all aspects of the story aren’t open for publication from anyone but the original author. Whatever happened to the concept of using it for writing practice? That’s all it can ever be. Period.

  12. I’d have to agree with Tina’s 1st comment…what is the lady talking about…every fanfic has been made as a movie fanfic..not the book fanfic..I’m not quite even sure that people even know about the book (meaning most of the people)..and even if they know about the book I doubt they’ve read it…but the lady probably wanted more publicity for her upcoming books or something like that…so most probably that’s the reason why she’s making all the fuss.

  13. Definitely into drama-queen territory. “Oh no, now that I’m famous, people are lavishing unwanted attention on me.”
    I’d wager that almost everyone on Earth would want to switch positions in a heartbeat, where the only toil in life is ‘receiving unwanted, poorly written manuscripts.’

  14. She understands copyright perfectly. She owns her characters, and stories that use them are derivative works- unauthorized derivative works.

  15. I respect the pro creator’s wishes but it’s starting to sound like another epic bout of drama-llama syndrome, brought on by a severe case of performance anxiety.


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