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This review is from: Bird Cloud (Hardcover)
I love Proulx's writing. Her sparse sentences are beautifully constructed, almost poetic, and she has such an affinity with the land she writes about you really feel at times as if you are there with her. This book is rather different from her novels and short stories however. It is a kind of memoir in which she talks about and tries to examine why a sense of place is so important to her. The book is split into three roughly equal sections. In the first she talks about her family tree and about searching for the part of herself that both longs for the perfect home and yet is still driven to wander. In the second section she talks about her attempts to build what she thought would be her perfect home in over six hundred acres of Wyoming landscape that she bought. This house is called Bird Cloud, hence the title of the book. The third section deals with her life at Bird Cloud and the life and history of the land that it is on.
All three sections are connected, but only loosely, and this really gives the book a sense of fragmentation that for me did not make it an easy read. It seems unfinished and rather fragmentary and also, at times, as if she herself is just not satisfied with what she is writing. The phrase that sums it up best for me is cobbled together.
The section on Bird Cloud itself was the most interesting. Proulx had endless difficulties with the house and it is compelling reading, but Bird Cloud is such an unusual house I really felt that at least one photograph or drawing of the house would not have gone amiss here. I really struggled to picture the house in my mind's eye and I got so attached to the outcome as I read that I felt somehow cheated that I didn't get to see the finished structure.
So, if you are starting off with Bird Cloud as an example of Proulx's writing I think you will be disappointed. Try Accordion Crimes or The Shipping News first and then move on to this. It is interesting but it feels unfinished and unsatisfactory.