x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Bird Cloud: A Memoir by Annie Proulx

The award-winning author walks us through the many trials of building an luxury home

Annie Proulx is one of America's foremost writers. Her novel, The Shipping News, won a Pulitzer and her short story, Brokeback Mountain, was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film.

Now in her seventies, she shares her attempt to create her dream house on a remote, 640-acre parcel of land in Wyoming. She is amusingly frank about who and what disappoints her throughout the process, such as the the high-profile architect Harry Teague. "I mentioned I had written an article about my dream house and he said he had read it. I was relieved to think that he already understood what I needed in a house. Later I decided that if he had read it he had quite forgotten the content."

For anyone considering building, Proulx has valuable advice dotted throughout heavily descriptive chapters on a variety of topics, such as the author's immigrant roots, American Indian history, birdwatching, and some Wild West characters that time has all but forgotten. The most gripping passages focus on the house construction, but even with Proulx's masterly observations, I longed for photographs to contextualise her gripes.