Annie Proulx's short story "Brokeback Mountain" gained a great deal of attention before it was collected into her Close Range: Wyoming Stories in 1999. It was first published in the New Yorker in 1998 and subsequently won the magazine's award for fiction that year. It also appeared in the 1998 edition of The O. Henry Stories. Recognizing that it was the strongest story in her collection, Proulx placed it at the end of the book. When the reviews of Close Range appeared, "Brokeback Mountain" was consistently singled out for its evocative detail and compelling narrative.
The story chronicles the relationship between Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two men who develop a deep love for each other but who are forced to live separate lives in an intolerant world. They meet as teenagers hired to herd sheep on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming. Their quick friendship soon evolves into a strong sexual and emotional union—one that they fear may eventually cost them their lives. As Proulx traces the development of the love that grows between these two men and the forces that try to impede that love, she shapes the interplay of desire and denial into a heartbreaking story of loss and endurance.