Brokeback Mountain is a gem of a story and I never realized until now the amount of layers that are shed throughout the book and I wish that Annie Proulx had turn this short story into a novel. With its simplistic dialogue I was immediately absorbed and now that its over I have been struck with these overwhelming unfulfilled questions that makes me wonder if its possible Jack and Ennis were real people. It goes to show that Annie Proulx is a beautiful writer and if I ever read any of her other works I hope she puts the same amount of effort and beauty into her storytelling.
Before I begin I have to mention that if you are reading this book because of the hype surrounding the controversial movie then I have to admit that this story will hands down be a disappointment for you. I was 10 years old when this movie was released and I remember everyone gossiping about it because it was the first time in history that a movie was featured on the big screen with "gay cowboys" and showcased that relationships between two men is possible, normal, and quite beautiful. Tons of people were outraged about the film because in 2005 it was utterly blasphemy to showcase two guys having sex or making out and then it got nominated for Best Picture and raised the hype through the roof.
I do not remember what year I saw the film but I remember vividly the only way I was able to watch it was on cable in my bedroom late at night when everyone else was sleeping and it is a beautiful story with a phenomenal cast plus it doesn't hurt that you have two gorgeous men on screen having sex.
In Brokeback Mountain, we go back to 1963 where we meet two lone cowboys named Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). They are both 19 years old and practically had the same upbringing of being high school dropouts to help support their family. They need money and a job so they apply on a ranch in Brokeback Mountain and both are hired. At first they are apprehensive with one another because they are strangers but over the course of the upcoming days and weeks they grow to like each other.
Because they have similar backgrounds and could relate to one another, as a reader you start to notice a shift that they finally found someone who they relate and confide in. Learning about their sad upbringing makes them vulnerable with one another and it doesn't help they are desperately lonely. Then one night they share a tent together and one minute they are next to each other and by the next page they are having intimate sex. It is a confusing moment for our main characters because they are not gay, this intimacy they are experiencing is completely unknown for them and it scares them.
What helps is they are by themselves on a mountain connecting with nature and not letting society dictate what they should or shouldn't feel because it is beautiful to witness two lost souls find each other and wishing that this fantasy will never end but at the certain point it has to and it is heart wrenching to see them leave after that blissful summer. This was never heard of in 1963 that two men living together like a married couple and it lasting. I know for sure that Jack Twist would have given everything up in order to be with Ennis forever but Ennis succumbed to the pressures of society and got married then had children.
The story shifts 4 years later and everyone seems to have moved on from Brokeback Mountain but for Ennis and Jack they still love each other. They are both married and by the look of it they are miserable for allowing to settle less instead of following their dreams. Even though it has only been a short amount time since they last seen each other it feels like decades because of their obligated responsibilities of being man of the house. Luckily the minute they see each other again it feels like we are back on Brokeback Mountain but this time its different because they are older and less naive.
Over the span of twenty years we see these characters struggle between following their hearts and the voice of society and at times it is very difficult for either of them to speak their thoughts because both are afraid of losing each other and they would rather enjoy the few moments they share with each other throughout the year then being alone without their soulmate. Jack brilliantly mentions it in one of their conversations that he regrets getting married and having a child, if he had simply follow his gut and intuition he could have gotten a ranch and lived happily ever after with Ennis by his side.
I do not believe the characters are bisexual or in the closet because they only had these sexual experiences with themselves. They never bother having sex with other men when they were married and in the end I believe if anything that its two straight men who fell in love with each other. I believe love is universal and at the end of the day it is possible for two straight men to fall in love with each other because when you are lonely and you find someone who makes you become a better person then you hold on to that person as hard as you possibly can.
For Jack, he made that connection right away and after he divorced his wife, he never forgot about Brokeback Mountain and essentially had his life all planned out if Ennis ever decided to finally settle down with him. Unfortunately it would take a tragic moment for Ennis to realize that if he had ignored society and listen to his heart he would have lived a more fulfilling life. This story is beautiful inside and out and because it was super short it left me with questions about what happens to Ennis, their upbringing, and what happened during the 20 years that they shared?
This book felt like I was reading about real people and I believe this feeling will linger with me for years to come. I was touched by this incredible story and those last few pages I was in tears. It's horrible that it takes a tragedy for someone to realize the things we take for granted in life but it happens everyday and this book is no exception. It was entertaining to see that this story takes place around nature in a period where you could easily disconnect from the world and discover who you are with nature. This book by far is one of the best gay adult romance books I have encountered and I believe for decades to come this story will still have a major impact for me.