#29 – Bird Cloud – Annie Proulx

“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.

Proulx’s first work of nonfiction in more than twenty years, 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. Bird Cloud is magnificent. – Publishers Website

I was inquisitive about this memoir.  I looked forward to reading it.  I was disappointed in some of the parts of it, for the most part, everyone has problems upon problems when building from scratch.  Not to mention that Annie builds in the middle of nowhere is her big problem, the first she has written in over 20 years.  I did however, love her descriptions of the area where  she chose to build.  The nature, the wildlife, the history behind the area.  I believe that possibly if she just focused on that part it would have been a more well received book.  I may sound a bit ticked off about the personal parts of the memoir, it is because everyone has these sorts of problems when they are dealing with contractors, and people in general.  Not that I hated the book, like I mentioned earlier I loved the descriptions of the area as well as the history, but her ranting turned me off.

Read an excerpt



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