Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:2 (Spring 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


The Brokeback Book's subtitle suggests that it aims to be something more comprehensive than a collection of essays on Annie Proulx's story or director Ang Lee's film. In this respect, this impressive book works well to bring together some previously published essays, such as those by David Leavitt and Daniel Mendelsohn, which took particular positions on the debates around the "gayness" of the film, and places them alongside direct and indirect responses to such critical readings. Hence we have the producer of the film James Schamus's reply to Mendelsohn in which he argues that through "mainstreaming" gayness "we disturb the given sites-some closeted, some not-from which gay identities struggle for recognition," or new essays such as Mun-Hou Lo's discussion of "forbearance," Vanessa Osborne's piece on Marxist notions of the "laboring body," or Judith Halberstam on "queering the Western." Thus the book clearly interests itself in the "phenomenon" of both story and film, revealing the intense cultural politics of a circulating text that has had an incredible significance to the lives of gay and straight communities.