Annie Proulx, Bird Cloud
A renowned author builds her dream house in Wyoming
Being a renowned author has its advantages. For one thing, it allows you to do things like buy your own pristine property in the woods of Wyoming. For another, it allows you to vent your frustrations about the renovation process to the world at large. Annie Proulx takes advantage of that unique privilege in Bird Cloud, a memoir of her (foiled) attempt to create her dream house. Bird Cloud is an odd bird. Proulx begins by unraveling her fascinating family history, but forgoes knitting something out of that broad strand in favor of a singular thread: a kind of ancestral homelessness she traces back to her father’s Cajun roots. From her numerous attempts to find her literal place in the world, Proulx selects the story of Bird Cloud, her aforementioned property in Wyoming, as a focus for her examination of this yearning.
Proulx is famously more tough than tender, and that much is evident in this memoir. Those looking for a gut-spill with be sorely disappointed, but homeowners are bound to feel pangs of recognition in Proulx’s tale of woe, and her writing is characteristically clear and lovely, interwoven with impassioned meditations on the wilds that surround her home, the history of Wyoming and its people, and her ancestry.