Sunday, November 27, 2005

Annie Proulx's 'Private Passions'

I live in Norfolk, so I'm always keen to feature authors from Norwich. So it's a great pleasure to write about Annie Proulx's 'Private Passions' as she was born in Norwich - Norwich Connecticut that is.

Let's answer the obvious question first, how is her name pronounced? It is as if it were spelled Proo, the l and x are silent. Despite the high profile achieved by her Pulitzer Prize wining second novel The Shipping News Annie Proulx (right) has actively avoided fitting into the role of best selling author. She started her career as a journalist, and did not begin writing fiction until she was in her 50s. She has shunned the New York literary circuit, and lives on her own in the foothills of the Rockies at Arvada, Wyoming.

In an interview she said about the celebrity status afforded to best-selling authors:

"It's not good for one's view of human nature, that's for sure. You begin to see, when invitations are coming from festivals and colleges to come read (for an hour for a hefty sum of money), that the institutions are head-hunting for trophy writers. Most don't particularly care about your writing or what you're trying to say. You're there as a human object, one that has won a prize. It gives you a very odd, meat-rack kind of sensation."

Annie Proulx's selection of musical 'Private Passions,' selected for the BBC Radio 3 programme of the same name was as refreshingly off-the-wall as her approach to celebrity status. It includes everything from John Adams to a personal favourite of mine, bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Pat Metheny's Beyond the Missouri Sky. Here are her 'Private Passions':

* Spiritual (from Beyond the Missouri Sky), Charley Haden and Path Metheney Verve 314 537 130-2
* Austin Pitre, ‘Les Flames d’enfer’ (from Lou’isiana Dance Party), Gazelle GCCD 3004
* Francis Poulenc, ‘Hommage à Edith Piaf’ (from 15 Improvisations), Eric Parkin (piano) Chandos CHAN 8847
* Gilmore, ‘Deep Eddy Blues,’ Jimmy Dale Gilmore Hightone Records HCD 8018
* Adams, ‘Toot Nipple’ (from John’s Book of Alleged Dances), Kronos Quartet Nonesuch 7550 79485-2
* ‘Los Illegales’, Valerio Longoria Rounder CD 6024
* Walser/Kronos Quartet, ‘Rose Marie’ (from Down at the Skyvue Drive-in), Don Walser and Kronos Quartet Watermelon Records 31017-2
* Welch, ‘Morphine’ (from Hell Among the Yearlings), Gillian Welch Almo Sounds AMSD 80021
* ‘Jelly Roll Rag’ (from Max Roach Presents The Uptown String Quartet), The Uptown String Quartet Philips 838 358-2

There is an excellent Guardian profile of Annie Proulx at this link
Follow this link for
Annie Proulx's web page, which is reassuringly Flash-free
Programme broadcast on 14th July 2001.
Listen to the latest BBC Radio 3 Private Passions programme
with this link.
Information reproduced from
Private Passions by Michael Berkeley, published by Faber ISBN 0-571-22884- 4
Image credit -
The Age

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