Annie Proulx, one of America's finest writers, invites us to share her experience in the building of her new home on a rich plot of untouched, unspoilt prairie and her pleasure in uncovering of the layers of American history locked beneath the topsoil. 'Bird Cloud' is the name Annie Proulx gave to 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie and 400 ...
Annie Proulx, one of America's finest writers, invites us to share her experience in the building of her new home on a rich plot of untouched, unspoilt prairie and her pleasure in uncovering of the layers of American history locked beneath the topsoil. 'Bird Cloud' is the name Annie Proulx gave to 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie and 400 foot cliffs plunging down to the North Platte River. On the day she first visited, a cloud in the shape of a bird hung in the evening sky. Proulx also saw pelicans, bald eagles, golden eagles, great blue herons, ravens, scores of bluebirds, harriers, kestrels, elk, deer and a dozen antelope. She knew she had to purchase the land, then owned by the Nature Conservancy, and she knew what she would build on it -- a house in harmony with her work, her appetites and her character -- a library surrounded by bedrooms and a kitchen. Proulx's first non-fiction in more than twenty years, Bird Cloud is the story of building that house -- solar panels, a Japanese soak tub, a concrete floor, elk horn handles on kitchen cabinets -- and an enthralling natural history and archeology of the region, inhabited for millennia by Ute, Arapaho and Shoshone Indians. It is also a family history, going back to nineteenth century Mississippi river boat captains and Canadian settlers, and an illuminating autobiography. Proulx, a writer with extraordinary powers of observation and compassion, turns her lens on herself. We understand how she came to be living in a house surrounded by wilderness, with shelves for thousands of books and long worktables on which to heap manuscripts, research materials and maps, and how she came to be one of the great American writers of her time.
Publishers Weekly, 2010-09-27 The Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Brokeback Mountain portrays her flawed paradise in the majestic, hardscrabble West in this vibrant memoir. Proulx bought a 640-acre nature preserve by the North Platte River in Wyoming and started building her dream house, a project that took years and went hundreds of thousands of dollars over budget. In her bustling account, Proulx salivates over the prospect of a Japanese soak tub, polished concrete floor, solar panels, and luxe furnishings that often turn into pricey engineering fiascoes. The meticulous master builders she dubs the James Gang are the book's heroes. Though the house never quite lives up to its promise, it does inspire the author's engrossing natural history of the locale. Proulx drives cattle off of the overgrazed terrain; finds stone arrowheads; recounts the lore of the Indians, ranchers, and foppish big-game hunters who contested the land; and documents the antics of the eagles, magpies, mountain lions, and other critters who tolerate her presence. Like her fiction, Proulx's memoir flows from a memorable landscape where "the sagebrush seems nearly black and beaten low by the ceaseless wind"; the result is a fine evocation of place that becomes a meditation on the importance of a home, however harsh and evanescent. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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