Friday, March 03, 2006

Best adapted screenplay?

In 1994 Vintage Books came out with a 36-page collection of ten W.H. Auden poems titled Tell Me the Truth About Love. Soaring demand for the poems was not a consequence of Auden's death—he had already been dead 20 years—but because one of the poems, "Funeral Blues," written in 1936 as a song for a play, was memorably featured in the hit movie Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Auden's literary executor, Edward Mendelson, said that four months after the movie's premiere he was still getting "phone calls three times a day asking, 'Where can I buy that poem?'"

(A bookstore?)

If Brokeback Mountain wins the Oscar on Sunday night—and it should, say the oddsmakers--hopefully interested readers won't attempt to contact E. Annie Proulx. They can pop over to their favorite bookstore and pick up Close Range: Wyoming Stories, the collection in which "Brokeback Mountain" appears.

Here's what Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote about the work back in 1999.

At the start of ''Brokeback Mountain,'' the volume's strongest story, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two ''high school dropout country boys with no prospects,'' find themselves passionately attracted to each other sexually one summer while looking after sheep on Brokeback Mountain. But they know that in Wyoming ''them guys you see around sometimes'' have had their heads beaten in with tire irons. So they try marrying women and living normal lives, and seeing each other only on annual so-called fishing trips.

''Years on years they worked their way through the high meadows and mountain drainages, horse-packing into the Big Horns, Medicine Bows, south end of the Gallatins, Absakoras, Granites, Owl Creeks, the Bridger-Teton Range, the Freezeouts and the Shirleys, Ferrises and the Rattlesnakes, Salt River Range, into the Wind Rivers over and over again, the Sierra Madres, Gros Ventres, the Washakies, Laramies, but never returning to Brokeback.'' Two cowboys making love.

--Marshal Zeringue