Andi Marquette's Reviews > The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

The Legend of Colton H. Bryant by Alexandra Fuller
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's review
Oct 14, 2011

really liked it

I'm also a huge fan of Alexandra Fuller. I would probably read her grocery lists and find something deeply poetic about them. She is, I think, one of the most lyrical writers I've discovered, and this account of a third-generation Wyoming roughneck only continues to cement my opinion.

Most of her work deals with her life in Zimbabwe, so I was surprised to see this one but then I found out she was living in Wyoming, so it made more sense. Before I started reading it, too, I had a feeling she'd "get" the West and I think, after reading this, she does.

Here we have the creative nonfiction account of Colton H. Bryant, a Wyoming cowboy who ended up working western oil rigs as a roughneck, a job that would ultimately cut his young life too short. Fuller acknowledges that she took narrative liberties with Bryant's story, as one might see in a movie adaptation of a biography. She is a consummate painter with words, and in the telling of Bryant's life, and her skillful evocation of harsh but supremely beautiful western landscapes, a reader might come away blaming the oil industry and life on the rigs as a villain. In some ways, that's probably true. There are many deaths and injuries in this industry, but ultimately what Fuller does in this book is to give Bryant a voice of sorts, perhaps, that he didn't have in life, and she shows us the many sides of a young man whose life ended tragically. So yes, bringing some attention to the western conundrum -- selling our souls to industries that might not have our best interests at heart in an effort to make a living and make a life -- is never a bad thing.
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