Annie Proulx is a writer that I've wanted to read for quite some time, especially because of Brokeback Mountain - a movie that I liked very much (honestly, less then some other people I know, who were pretty much obsessed with it). Anybody who's seen the movie knows that it's more about the cinematography, the acting and the fabulous chemistry between the main actors, than it's about the (very basic) story. And it's exactly the same with the literary source as well.
Proulx's Brokeback Mountain is a novella. A short story, even. The story of two lonesome cowboys whose awkward love affair on the titular mountain leads them to question their very fiber is about 50 pages long. Packed in these 50 pages is more character development than I've seen in some 400-hundred page novels. The story is driven by these vibrant characters, particularly Ennis del Mar, the more "butch" of the two (played in the film by the incomparable Heath Ledger). He is the perfect embodiment of an all-male American testosterone no-nonsense kind of person, his main conflict within the book's realm being the feelings he is forced to juggle.
In all honesty, I enjoyed the movie more. I felt as if the themes and the symbols the book only hints at did not have the space to breathe and develop - mainly the titular mountain, the symbol of Renaissance-like lack of society pastoral environment, which is in sharp contrast with the "town" and all that comes with it. And although I would always choose the movie before reading Brokeback Mountain again, this is a masterfully written novella that should speak to a large readership.
The movie version of Brokeback Mountain on DVD is on sale at Amazon.com, a fantastic bargain for this modern classic. Get it there!