The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

4.2 14
by Alexandra Fuller
     
 

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A heartrending story of the human spirit from the author of the bestselling Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

Alexandra Fuller returns with the unforgettable true story of Colton H. Bryant, a soulful boy with a mustang-taming heart who comes of age in the oil fields and open plains of Wyoming. After surviving a sometimes cruel adolescence with his

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Overview

A heartrending story of the human spirit from the author of the bestselling Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

Alexandra Fuller returns with the unforgettable true story of Colton H. Bryant, a soulful boy with a mustang-taming heart who comes of age in the oil fields and open plains of Wyoming. After surviving a sometimes cruel adolescence with his own brand of optimistic goofiness, Colton goes to work on an oil rig-and there the biggest heart in the world can't save him from the new, unkind greed that has possessed his beloved Wyoming during the latest boom.

Colton's story could not be told without telling of the land that grew him, where the great high plains meet the Rocky Mountains to create a vista of lonely beauty. It is here that the existence of one boy is a true story as deeply moving as the life that inspired it.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" [Fuller's] book-set in her new home, the high plains of Wyoming-hangs so faultlessly on its high-altitude, big-sky, oildrilling bones that it seems not so much to have been written as uncovered by the wind and weather of the American north-west."
-The Economist
Carolyn See
At first it would seem that The Legend of Colton H. Bryant marks an extraordinary change of pace for accomplished writer Alexandra Fuller, whose earlier books, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat, are detailed, realistic narratives, both set in Africa, in some of its most inhospitable climes and dire circumstances. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant is set in Wyoming (where Fuller now resides with her husband and children). It is short, incantatory and, although true, cast as a fable, a story of why-things-are-the-way-they-are, a little like Rudyard Kipling's "How the Leopard Got His Spots." But this short "legend" has a great deal in common with the African books. They all concern men who fall helplessly in love with impossible landscapes and hopeless situations. Something within them connects to the hard times outside them, and that connection increases in strength until it snaps.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Fuller, author of the bestselling Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, narrates the tragically short life of Colton H. Bryant, a Wyoming roughneck in his mid-20s who in 2006 fell to his death on an oil rig owned by Patterson-UTI Energy. A Wyoming resident herself since 1994, Fuller is expert in evoking the stark landscape and recreating the speech and mentality of her adopted state's native sons. Along the way, she sheds light on the tough, unpredictable lives of Wyoming's oilmen and the toll exacted on their families. Though the book is wonderfully poignant and poetic and reads more like a novel than biography, Fuller acknowledges that she has taken narrative liberties, composed dialogue, disregarded certain aspects of Colton's life and occasionally juggled chronology "to create a smoother story line," leading readers to wonder what is true and what invented for dramatic purposes. As such, it is difficult to assess Fuller's simplistic conclusion that the company's drive to cut costs killed the young man, though she is right to highlight the strikingly high number of fatalities in the industry. As a touching portrait of a life cut short and a perceptive immersion in the environment that nurtures such men, Fuller's volume excels, but in terms of absolute veracity it should be read with caution. (May 6)

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Kirkus Reviews
A lyrical paean to an unsung . . . well, not exactly hero, but one of life's unsung people. If this book were a country song, it would be by Merle Haggard. Whether British-born Fuller (Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier, 2004, etc.) knows from Haggard is a matter of speculation, but what is clear is that she has an unfailing eye for common people caught up in uncommon events. This story of a young Wyomingite named Colton H. Bryant is also that of the oil and gas boom wrought by deregulation in these rapacious years of Bush, "a tragedy before it even starts because there was never a way for anyone to win against all the odds out here." Alternately bullied and ignored-"Retard" is a slur-cum-nickname that figures often in these pages-Colton did most of the things a young man in the heavily Mormon southwestern corner of the state is supposed to do: ride and rope, fish and hunt, cruise around in pickup trucks. Moreover, like young men in Evanston, Colton "was born with horses and oil in his blood like his father before him and his grandfather before that and maybe his grandfather's father before that." Having endured adolescence thanks to a good friend named Jake and a slightly misquoted creed borrowed from television ("Mind over matter"), Colton followed the second birthright to the oil patch, where he quickly found work as a roughneck, an unforgiving job. "They have to keep drilling hour after hour--storm, heat, sleet, ice, sun--no matter what," writes Fuller. "They'll slap another beating heart on the rig to take your place if you're so much as five minutes late." Diligent and aware of the dangers, but needing to support a wife and baby, he fell into the well, as so manyothers have, just one of 35 Wyomingites to die on the rigs between 2000 and 2006. The petroleum company, in the meanwhile, boasted record profits-while Colton's family "received no compensation for his loss."A latter-day Silkwood, quiet and understated, beautifully written, speaking volumes about the priorities of the age.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143115373
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/2009
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
175,920
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Praise for Alexandra Fuller’s The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

“Incantatory.”

—Carolyn See, The Washington Post

“African-bred Alexandra Fuller has a feel for wildness—of a country or of a man. With the breathtaking bravado of a western windstorm, Fuller charges straight inside the mind of an American innocent, a restless cowboy with cornflower blue eyes. . . . Set this real-life hero within a landscape of oil rigs in a culture of corporate greed, and you have The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, a loving, raging portrait of the untamed but endangered American West.”

—Cathleen Medwick, O, The Oprah Magazine

“[The Legend of Colton H. Bryant]—set in [Fuller’s] new home, the high plains of Wyoming—hangs so faultlessly on its high-altitude, big-sky, oil-drilling bones that it seems not so much to have been written as uncovered by the wind and weather of the American north-west.”

The Economist

“Fuller creates an iconic cowboy from his friends’ and family’s memories. Her writing is poetry.”

—Sarah Peasley, Rocky Mountain News

“A latter day Silkwood, quiet and understated, beautifully written, speaking volume about the priorities of the age.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A gentle, understated book that effectively muckrakes at the same time it portrays a living and dying symbol of the oil rigs.”

—Dennis Lythgoe, Deseret News

“Moving . . . By the time Bryant meets his demise, you may just find yourself fighting tears.”

Entertainment Weekly

“A poignant portrait of an extraordinary ordinary roughneck . . . Fuller nails dialogue and the disdain for self pity endemic in the West.”

—Johanna Love, Jackson Hole News & Guide

“Extraordinary . . . I still feel heartsick a few weeks after finishing it. . . . How can you read this tender, troubling book and go out and fill your car with gas, and not care about the men who risk their lives to provide that energy?”

—Jenny Shank, New West

“Fuller’s deeply moving celebration of Colton’s life is bursting with humor, love, and tragedy, like all that is best in life, and without ever having met him, you won’t soon forget Colton H. Bryant.”

—Ian Chipman, Booklist (starred review)

PENGUIN BOOKS

THE LEGEND OF COLTON H. BRYANT

Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to a farm in southern Africa. She lived in Africa until her mid-twenties. In 1994, she moved to Wyoming with her husband. They have three children.

ALSO BY ALEXANDRA FULLER

Scribbling the Cat:
Travels with an African Soldier

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight:
An African Childhood

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

Table of Contents

Praise for Alexandra Fuller’s The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

FEED JAKE

Cast of Characters

 

PART ONE

A WESTERN

COLTON AND THE KMART COWBOYS

PRESTON AND COLTON, HUNTING

BILL’S PHILOSOPHY OF HORSE BREAKING

BILL AND COLTON

IN THE BEGINNING

CATTLE DRIVE

GOOSE HUNTING WITH JAKE, COLTON, AND CODY

JAKE

JAKE

JAKE AND COLTON

RUNNING FREE

BILL’S PHILOSOPHY OF HUNTING

LOOKING FOR COCOA

FIREWOOD

COCOA

GRADUATION

BULL RIDING

PARADISE ROAD

DRILLING ON THE RIGS

ANATOMY OF AN OIL PATCH

FLOW TESTING

THE ASTRO LOUNGE

TRAIN STOPPING

COLTON AND CHASE

KAYLEE’S PHILOSOPHY OF DRUGS

FIREWORKS

DRIVING ALL DAY

PATTERSON-UTI DRILLING

DRIVING ALL DAY AND NIGHT

MARRIED

DRILLING

THANKSGIVING

A SERIOUS LIFE

MARRIAGE AND ROUGHNECKING

THE DEATH OF LEROY FRIED

DAKOTA JUSTUS BRYANT

COLTON QUITS

COLTON WORKS IN EVANSTON

MINUS THIRTY-FIVE

 

PART TWO

THE DAY BEFORE VALENTINE’S DAY

CUMBERLAND CEMETERY

VALENTINE’S EVENING

FREE FALL

JAKE DRIVING ALL DAY

PATTERSON-UTI DRILLING

TOUGH ANGEL

RAINBOW

A MILLION-DOLLAR PERSONALITY

EVANSTON CEMETERY

COLT

JAKE AND COLTON

 

Author’s Note

Acknowledgments

For Dakota and Nathanial
Because of C.H.B.
From Justice to Forgiveness

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
" [Fuller's] book-set in her new home, the high plains of Wyoming-hangs so faultlessly on its high-altitude, big-sky, oildrilling bones that it seems not so much to have been written as uncovered by the wind and weather of the American north-west."
-The Economist

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