Among Proulx's many strengths is her vivid evocation of place, and this book, her first non-fiction in many years, is an eloquent memoir of the landscapes in her life. Her recounting of her peripatetic childhood will please her fans, but it is her purchase of a 640-acre Wyoming nature preserve and, especially, the building of her dream house by a group of master builders that occupies most of this splendid book. With characteristic humor, irony, imagination and curiosity, she describes the planning, building, successes and disappointments, as well as engrossing diversions into the natural and human history of Bird Cloud. — Louise Jones
January 2011 Indie Next List
“Annie Proulx, one of America's best-loved authors, shares her adventures of moving from the East Coast to Wyoming, finding a 640-acre property, and beginning to build the perfect home. Situated at the foot of a 400-foot cliff, the scenery is breathtaking and filled with wildlife: eagles, mountain lions, herons, elk, deer, and antelope. Her home was planned to be 'a wooden poem,' and Proulx's experience of building what came to be called 'Bird Cloud' will keep you engrossed through writing that is both riveting and revelatory.”
— Lillian Kinsey, The Morris Book Shop, Lexington, KY
Part autobiography, part natural history, Bird Cloud is the glorious story of Annie Proulx’s piece of the Wyoming landscape and her home there.
“Bird Cloud” is the name Annie Proulx gave to 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie and four-hundred-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 fell in love with the land, then owned by the Nature Conservancy, and she knew what she wanted to build on it—a house in harmony with her work, her appetites and her character, a library surrounded by bedrooms and a kitchen.
Bird Cloud is the story of designing and constructing that house—with its solar panels, Japanese soak tub, concrete floor, and elk horn handles on kitchen cabinets. It is also an enthralling natural history and archaeology of the region—inhabited for millennia by Ute, Arapaho, and Shoshone Indians—and a family history, going back to nineteenth-century Mississippi riverboat captains and Canadian settlers.
Proulx, a writer with extraordinary powers of observation and compassion, here 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.
About the Author
Annie Proulx is the author of nine books, including the novel The Shipping News, Barkskins, and the story collection Close Range. Her many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner award. Her story “Brokeback Mountain,” which originally appeared in The New Yorker, was made into an Academy Award–winning film. Her most recent novel is Fen, Bog, and Swamp. She lives in Seattle.
“With every word on the page, Proulx pays homage to a rugged and magnificent Wyoming place—as well as to its surroundings, history, topography, geology and animals…. Proulx shares a part of her soul with the publication of Bird Cloud…. Beautiful and profound.”--Buffalo News
“Gorgeous descriptions… Unforgettable anecdotes.”—Alexandra Fuller, New York Times Book Review
“Annie Proulx has a wit as sharp as the winter winds of Wyoming.”—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today