Writer Annie Proulx attends the "Brokeback Mountain" Opera press conference at the Royal Theatre on Jan. 27, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.
Carlos Alvarez—Getty Images
By Jack Linshi
December 29, 2014

Pulitzer-winning writer Annie Proulx opened up to the Paris Review about why she wishes she’d never written Brokeback Mountain, the short story that turned into the triple Academy Award-winning film of the same name. Both the film and short story follow the lives of two cowboys, Jack and Ennis, as they navigate their secret romance in 1960s Wyoming.

Here’s what Proulx said about what happened after the film adaptation:

But the problem has come since the film. So many people have completely misunderstood the story. I think it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience, but unfortunately the audience that “Brokeback” reached most strongly have powerful fantasy lives. And one of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can’t bear the way it ends—they just can’t stand it. So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild. They can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis. It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it. I can’t tell you how many of these things have been sent to me as though they’re expecting me to say, Oh great, if only I’d had the sense to write it that way. And they all begin the same way—I’m not gay, but . . . The implication is that because they’re men they understand much better than I how these people would have behaved. And maybe they do. But that’s not the story I wrote. Those are not their characters. The characters belong to me by law.

[The Paris Review]

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