Above the snooty sink hung a mirror with high-wattage bulbs blazing straight into one's face rather like something John Gielgud might have had in his dressing room. For an aging woman it was frightening rather than useful. Annie Proulx
I like the fact that this book is a memoir rather than an autobiography. Annie Proulx focuses on a particular event in her life - the construction of her house at Bird Cloud near Medicine Bow in Wyoming. She wanted a house built to her specifications, using natural materials where possible, with plenty of space for her large collection of books. She wanted to be able to write without interruption, spread out old maps and photographs, view the cliff face in the changing light and watch the eagles from her window.
Unfortunately, things didn't go quite to plan. There were problems with builders, architects and sub-contractors, spiralling expenses and long, long waits for materials to arrive and work to be completed. Not to mention the fact that the area is isolated and exposed to high Wyoming winds. Bird Cloud is on the North Platte River near the town of Saratoga on the western slope of Medicine Bow. The wildlife is spectacular and Proulx weaves in details of a clever mountain lion, tagging elks for a conservation project and a whole chapter about pine cones. This book reminds me a little of The Blue Jay's Dance by Louise Erdrich and has reawakened my interest in Annie Proulx. A few years ago I read several of her novels back to back and then got a bit depressed with the grim realities of life for ranchers, cowboys and drifters. One can only stand so much reality!
Now I want to re-read her wonderful novel The Shipping News.
I also have Barbara Kingsolver's Homeland to read and my author of the month is that queen of American landscape writers Willa Cather. Fabulous picture of her, don't you think?