Bird Cloud is the name that renowned writer Annie Proulx gave to the piece of land in Wyoming which she acquired to build her house on. Not just a house but "the" house, a home which she apparently missed to have during her early years. A house not only in harmony with the surrounding nature, which Mrs. Proulx fell in love with, but also tailored to her understanding of good design, beauty and the needs she has as a writer and which fits with her broad range of interest from history, wildlife, outdoor sports, tracking, geology, cooking, birds, books and writing. This house had to fit specific purposes and to be build from a meticulous choice of materials. So this is not a novel, but a non-fiction story about Mrs. Proulx reasons to build a house in this specific place, why it had to be designed in the way she decided (with the architect of her choice), the problems associated to build in a remote area as Bird Cloud is, problems which everybody in one way or the other is confronted with building a house (craftsmen not showing the expected craftsmanship, bad or wrong materials delivered, to learn that some design decision weren't that smart as one thought and so on.) But it also is an account on the surrounding wildlife and birds, a history lesson about the 18th and 19th century in this area of Wyoming and the West in general. It tells the story of Indian tribes as well as anecdotes about white settler and early entrepreneurs. This being said it might become clear that the book is a mixed bag. Do not think of this as a memoir of Mrs. Proulx in terms of getting to know much abut her life from birth to the present. It is only in the early chapters when we learn about her Franco Canadian roots and how they and the volatile life of her father with ever changing places to live at, had influenced her. This might have kindled her urge for a perfect home. Chapter by chapter the books focus shifts to different topics associated to the patch of land, the house, history, house building and animals, landscape, you name it. So it is as much the things she is telling about as actually telling of herself, that gives you a glimpse of what Annie Proulx is like and what makes her tick. Unless you are not interested in the type of stuff mentioned, you most likely wont be that captivated like you might be by her novels and short stories. Especially the details on the house building, materials choice and trouble around building can become tedious as they seem to drag on and on. There are times when topics change in the middle of a page from house building to outdoor tracking. Overall you will not get the amount of intense writing and concentration one is used to get by Annie Proulx. There are some very nice parts but those are buried under stuff not that convincing. Overall I had expected more of the book. I am an avid reader of Annie Proulx stories and novels and liked the idea to get to know more about her and of course get more of her style of writing. Unfortunately this book failed to deliver in both respects. At least for my taste and to the extend that I expected. Partly a failure of wrong expectations, partly one of questionable decisions in mixing personal accounts with non fiction elements getting out of balance.
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