The Legend of Coulter H. Bryant, Alexandra Fuller

A legend in structure and voice, this bittersweet volume recounting the unfairly-short life of one Wyoming cowboy/oil-hand has the added virtue of being true.

Bittersweet it is, in how tightly Bryant’s great assets – humor, modesty, caring, headstrong eagerness – are tied to his less-practical qualities – impatience and impulsiveness, difficulty with book learning, and a general unwillingness to make careful preparation for anything, including his own continued existence.

Bittersweet too, in  how the admirable desire to make a living in the midst of rugged nature can evolve into reckless exploitation and endangerment.  How the joys and virtues of Wyoming (or any other near-frontier region)and its lifestyle are intertwined with its hardships and its dangers.  Which seems, after all, the real root theme of Fuller’s slightly-dramatized biography, and no doubt the reason this Africa-born-and-raised author has chosen to make such a state her home.

Fluid and entertaining, The Legend of Coulter H. Bryant is also deeply moving; and very nearly poetic at times.

An masterful piece of work on an eye-opening topic, to an admirable journalistic end.

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