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Bird Cloud: A Memoir by Annie Proulx
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Bird Cloud: A Memoir

by Annie Proulx

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3353047,010 (3.3)47

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English (29)  French (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
All about designing and building a house on former Nature Conservancy land in Wyoming. Some history, some geology, a vivid evocation of the unforgiving landscape--a life lived very close to nature. Skimmed a little. (A rather tedious chapter on her genealogy nonetheless offers interesting insight on the origins of some of the material for Barkskins.) ( )
  beaujoe | Sep 9, 2018 |
Read 100 pages & concluded: Who cares? ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
A real snoozefest ego book about how ridiculous one person can be in planning and building "the house I would spend the rest of my days in". A poor effort recounting a poor effort. ( )
  MugsyNoir | Oct 27, 2017 |
This is a memoir of Proulx's experience building what was meant to be her dream house and final home on 640 acres in Southern Wyoming, along the North Platte River, on the west slope of the Medicine Bow range, part of the Rocky Mountains. She was 70 years old when she began the process of buying the land, planning and building the house. Very little went as planned, everything took longer and cost more than expected, and ultimately Proulx realized that it would be impossible for her to live in the finished house through the deep Wyoming winters. Contrary to what she had been told, the county road leading to the house site was not maintained in the winter...the house would be inaccessible once the heavy snows came. All of this merely confirmed my long-held belief that I would never be tempted or persuaded to build a house, and made me wonder why anyone would choose Wyoming wilderness to live in. Proulx framed this central story with background on the history of the land and its previous owners, her own family history and genealogy, and best of all, the natural history of the area. I felt a bit bogged down in the discouraging details of the house construction, especially when the author reiterated periodically how she was running out of money, and yet went on to describe more and more projects, acquisitions, do-overs, re-designs, and trips that must have cost what I would consider a small fortune. Furthermore, a few of her design elements sounded like really bad ideas to begin with, to me. I mean -- a concrete floor in the kitchen? Mmmm...why? The reward for suffering through all of this with her was the final chapter, "A Year of Birds", which contains some really fine nature writing. I give the book as a whole a grudging 3 stars, as I just didn't think it was a cohesive whole, but I will keep it around for the possibility of revisiting the eagles, elk, falcons, mountain lion, horned larks, jackrabbits and rosy finches with which the author shared her months at Bird Cloud. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jul 4, 2016 |
Abandoned. I was bored to tears. Disappointing. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jun 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Reading Ms. Proulx’s prose is like bouncing along rutted country roads in a pickup truck with no shock absorbers. Her books are packed with arcane flora and fauna and eccentrically named towns and characters. Many writers employ unusual verbs and adjectives; Ms. Proulx likes weird nouns. Her cluttered style is, in a kind of reverse way, as jewel-encrusted as Gustav Klimt’s.

In “Bird Cloud” these qualities turn against her. She visually absorbs Wyoming’s long vistas and spits out data like a seed catalog.
added by lorax | editNew York Times, Dwight Garner (Jan 4, 2011)
 
There are three brilliantly researched and written chapters in Bird Cloud that construct a fine gallery interpreting the human and natural history of a wild stretch of Wyoming landscape. Unfortunately, they are the last three chapters and to get to them we have to make it through a meandering, overwrought and badly conceived foyer of “I-built-a-house” memoir, seven chapters long....For the reader, though, it also signals the disappointment of the first two-thirds of her book. We stand at a window Proulx created to provide a certain view, but in looking through it we wonder just what it was she wanted us to see
 
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. . . a very curious dish of Viennese sausages which were sizzling hot at one end and frozen at the other -- a striking example of the non-conductivity of sausages in high altitudes. --H. W. Tilman
Dedication
For Harry Teague who designed it
and for the James Gang who built it
and for Dudley Gardner who dug it
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The cow-speckled landscape is an ashy grey color.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743288807, Hardcover)

“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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:11 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Bird Cloud" is the name the author 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. She 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. Her first work of nonfiction in more than twenty years, this book 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. The author 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.… (more)

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