Bone Fire
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Bone Fire

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  346 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Ishawooa, Wyoming, is far from bucolic nowadays. The sheriff, Crane Carlson, needs no reminder of this but gets one anyway when he finds a kid not yet twenty murdered in a meth lab. His other troubles include a wife who’s going off the rails with bourbon and pot, and his own symptoms of the disease that killed his grandfather.

Einar Gilkyson, taking stock at eighty, counts...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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Mark Spragg’s latest book, Bone Fire, continues the story of Griff started in An Unfinished Life. I suggest you start with An Unfinished Life first or the sequel will be confusing. Bone Fire picks up with Griff dropping out of college to take care of her grandfather Einar who has become ill. Griff has become an artist, using pottery as her medium. This was one of my favorite parts of the book. Her art sounds amazing, very unique, and is so thoroughly described I could almost see it.

Many charact...more
This seems to be the final in a "loose trilogy" written by Spragg, and it is a great read! I call it loose because all of the books can be read as stand-alones, but I think I'd recommend them in order anyway. In Bone Fire, Spragg has honed his craft a bit; the characters are still top notch, but their relationships are better defined. The main character throughout the books, Einar, is much older and in failing health. His grandaughter, Griff cares for him and the ranch. His best friend Mitch is...more
Once I pick up a Spragg book, I can barely put them down. I love his writing. Bone Fire is his third novel, each set in Wyoming and each centering around the same set of people, more or less. The first in the series was The Fruit of Stone and I absolutely loved that book. Next was An Unfinished Life, also a great story, even though I was not quite as impressed as with the first. An Unfinished Life was made into a movie starring Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez. The movie was wel...more
It's difficult to imagine this as the same author who wrote An Unfinished Life. The characters are all there, along with numerous others introduced here in a random parade of (barely) related plot lines that ultimately go nowhere.

Lengthy, rambling sentences spiced with dictionary words force the reader to stop, re-read, looking for subject/verb/author's intent. Chapters jump from character to character, with no indication of who we're following now. New characters are introduced with no hint of...more
Iowa City Public Library
Mark Spragg’s Unfinished Life is in my top 20 list of all-time favorite books (and it was a great movie too starring Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, and Morgan Freeman), so I was eager to read Spragg’s new book Bone Fire. Bone Fire is about ordinary people and how they face life’s challenges. Griff, Einar, and many characters from Spragg’s earlier books appear in Bone Fire and they each face a challenge.

Octogenarian Einar has suffered a stroke and must submit to receiving care from Griff and his...more
R. Ellis
I would just as happily have given Bone fire four stars or two.

I loved that Mark Spragg continued the saga he started with An Unfinished Life and The Fruit of Stone. And even after reading Bone Fire, I eagerly await his next book. However...

I hated that Bone Fire so radically alters the personality of several of the characters I was so fond of. The personas of several characters are so different from what I had learned about them previously that I actually thought the characters were new to th...more
I've been a devoted reader of Spragg's since "Where River's Change Direction." This novel follows the characters from "An Unfinished Life", and the decisions made in the continuance of their lives are profoundly executed. The characters have kept me up at night, not just from reading, but from worrying over their lives, their dreams, their pain and sorrow. The first reason I fell in love with Spragg, and the reason why I return again and again is first and foremost for the way he evokes the West...more
Julene Bair
I can't believe it took me so long to get around to this book, as I'm a fan of Mark Spragg's work. I'm glad I waited, though, because today I'm in that state of bliss that comes from having been recently re-immersed in a world that I have some knowledge of but had to leave when I moved from Wyoming to Colorado. Spragg gets it right, as always.

Take the youngest character in this book, Kenneth. He is only ten, yet has totally absorbed the western values that shape the best men in that region. Whe...more
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters and each of their stories. The thing is, I felt like there was no beginning and no end. It seemed to be more like just a middle. It definitely left me wanting more. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. There was a character "Mitch" in the story that was brought up quite a few times. Honestly, I still don't know who he was in relation to the family. A brother? Uncle?

There was also the ending that left me confused. I'm not sure what...more
Paula Margulies
A hard-bitten western set in Wyoming (and, apparently, the sequel to An Unfinished Life, which I haven't read yet). The book is spare and dark, and with a muted, subdued storyline about a young woman, Griff, who lives on a ranch with her dying grandfather. She has a Native American boyfriend, Paul, who is a graduate student in Chicago, and much of the story centers on the tug-of-war between the two of them over their relationship. Other stories round out the plotline: the murder of a young tweak...more
Summer Ross
"Bone Fire" by Mark Spragg is a tale about preparing for death. There is a feeling of hopelessness that evolves throughout the book with some disconnections not only between the reader and the piece but also between the characters which leads me to believe as an audience he wanted us to feel that disconnection and experience it. This sometimes made the work confusing to read. However, inspite of the thick writing, there is a great deal of interpretive language and complex plot structures that mo...more
This book will appear March 2010. Mark Spragg has become a powerful, evocative writer. This novel's themes revolve around decay and loss- loss of the old West, and losses of the people trying to live in the new West. We see an old cowboy losing his independence, a meth lab taking a young life, and a young couple on the brink of dissolution. Publishers Weekly called the novel "bleak to the point of parody". I wouldn't go that far, but there aren't many bright spots in the novel. The ones we get-...more
Alex Rogers
I enjoyed the book - his writing is spare, beautiful, hard. The characters are interesting, absorbing, and portray a modern West in a way that clearly reflects their heritage. I found the book confusing at times, and struggled to keep up with the characters and what they were doing. part of this is because Spragg expects the reader to pay attention and doesn't lead them by hand - which I normally enjoy. But I was a little distracted while reading this and dipped in and out of the book, which mad...more
It took me a few pages to really get into this book. At first, I thought the author's descriptions of scenes and characters were too flowery and got in the way of whatever plot was developing. But later I realized that the author merely was paying great attention to detail. The descriptions were very evocative without being distracting. The characters were fully developed and engaging. While the plot (what there is of one) never really got going, the vignettes of the lives described in the book...more
Great sequel to An Unfinished Life. Love the characters, love the setting, love the story, love the language. The relationship between McEban and Kenneth was so precious. When it said that he curled up in bed with him, and talked at other times about him coming to bed to stay with Paul when he was Kenneth's age, I thought oh christ do not tell me this has to go to perv land and heart break. Well it did not. It was a lovely poignant perfect kind of affection that was not adulterated. Life in the...more
Gudrun Gudrun
Third in his Wyoming series, tells more of the lives of Einar Gilkyson, his granddaughter Griff, daughter-in-law Jean, and other characters from An Unfinished Life and The Fruit of the Stone. The Wyoming west is really the main character. It’s a very male book in many ways (the women don’t fare too well in this landscape and in these men’s lives). Beautifully etched. Laconic conversations that deliver large meaning with few words. Very Scandi in that way. It makes me want to go back and read all...more
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Bone Fire revisits characters previously introduced in The Fruit of Stone and An Unfinished Life, and because there are many references to the first two books, I'd recommend reading those first. In this last book of the "series," Spragg weaves together story lines, touching briefly on several dark themes including addiction, disconnection, and death. It could easily be a grim book, and parts of it are, but there are hopeful moments too, just like life.
Ann Marie
There was a beautiful but mediocre movie several years ago called "An Unfinished Life," starring Robert Redford, J-Lo and Morgan Freeman. It was an adaptation of a novel by Mark Spragg, and this is its sequel. Not necessary to have read the first one (I didn't) or to have seen the movie, but it was cool as I started reading to recognize the characters because I had seen the film recently on TV. Definitely a novel of the West..really enjoying it.
Becky C.
I loved the first book, An Unfinished Life, so I was interested to see where the characters were a few years later. Unfortunately, this one didn't live up to its predecessor. I confess that, after the first 50 pages, I just skimmed to the end. Meth lab, Lou Gehrig's disease, pot, alcohol abuse, lesbianism. Maybe I'm missing something, but it just seemed like a bunch of hot button social issues and not so much character development.
Jul 30, 2011 Dixie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
It starts off with the sheriff finding a 20 year old shot to death in a meth lab in a small Wyoming town. The Sheriff is dealing with a medical disease his father died of, his wife drinks too much, her daughter makes bone sculptures & is taking care of her aging Grandfather after she dropped out of college. The Gpa's lesbian sister comes to live with Gpa after her partner dies, and it goes on. Good stories about all the characters.

Leigh Farrell
I did like the continuation of "An Unfinished Life". The characters are stong, although mostly depressing and sad. The author describes Wyoming beautifully, one feels as if they were right there. I preferred "Where Rivers Change Direction" over this one, but still, a good read, I couldn't put it down and actually looked forward to bedtime.
Feb 27, 2013 Talene rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
An unnecessary sequel to An Unfinished Life. The plot never coalesces, though several characters are well-drawn, and at the end Spragg strains to braid together the disparate strands.

Sometimes subtle and affecting, but there’s too little about the characters and too much about the noble landscapes and mindscapes of the vanishing West.
I didn't realize that this was the sequel to An Unfinished Life until I looked at the Goodreads reviews, and then I realized I'd even read the other book, which was the prequel to this one.

A good story set in the WEST of Wyoming without being a western. The characters are well formed and you get a good feeling for place.
If you liked Forgiven, you'll like this better. Mark Spragg describes the people who live in this dry, difficult Western terrain by describing the country where they live, and he knows both. These are imperfect people, good, bad and indifferent, each doing the best they can. I would love to meet them. Each one of them.
change - aging- death- sickness- decisions- love - healing - not healing.
bones in Griffs art - kiln fire - bonfire- fire of the spirit- fire of alcohol.

relationships inthe sweet and not so sweet. in the tender and not so tender

a bookabout phases of life. and how we move on ordon't
While not as good as An Unfinished Life, this shares much of the beautiful writing and some unforgettable characters. It is a bit bleak, but absolutely love the strong feelings of land and people this novel evokes. And I loved the relationship between Kenneth and McEban.
I usually hate putting books down, but I made an exception with this one. I was on page 100 and I cared nothing for the characters or what was going to happen to them. I thought that it would probably be the same if I had read to the end of the book.
Really, I'd give this 5+ stars because it was better than anything else I've read recently. Lovely, spare prose. I could smell the sage brush. Wonderful and poignant characters. Great book. Another Border's closeout gem. I really did good on that haul.
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Mark Spragg is the author of Where Rivers Change Direction, a memoir that won the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers award, and the novels The Fruit of Stone and An Unfinished Life, which was chosen by the Rocky Mountain News as the Best Book of 2004. All three were top-ten Book Sense selections and have been translated into fifteen languages. He lives with his wife, Virginia, in Wyomi...more
More about Mark Spragg...
An Unfinished Life Where Rivers Change Direction The Fruit of Stone Thunder of the Mustangs: Legend and Lore of the Wild Horses Hateshinaki Hibi

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