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Rough Breaks: A Wyoming High Country Memoir Paperback – August 2, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Buyer’s work on a high country ranch during several years with brutal winters demanded extraordinary dedication. Yet despite the hardships, she found love in the land and its people, discovering the power to write movingly and with astonishing intimacy about her difficult life.”— Linda M. Hasselstrom, author of No Place Like Home: Notes From a Western Life

About the Author

Laurie Wagner Buyer, an award-winning poet, memoirist, and novelist, spent more than thirty years living in the backwoods and working on remote ranches in the Rocky Mountain West. The author of When I Came West, Across the High Divide, Side Canyons, and Spring’s Edge, she currently resides in Llano, Texas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (August 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806143754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806143750
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,450,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Poet, memoirist, and novelist Laurie Wagner Buyer Jameson spent over thirty years living in the backwoods and working on remote ranches in the Rocky Mountain West. Now married to renowned author/singer/songwriter/professional treasure hunter W.C. Jameson they reside at Casita de Luz in the small hill country town of Llano, Texas.

Laurie has a ThD from the American Institute of Holistic Theology and an MFA in Writing from Goddard College. Her freelance articles and photographs have appeared in dozens of periodicals, journals, reviews, and anthologies. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, Glass-eyed Paint in the Rain, Red Colt Canyon, Across the High Divide, Cinch Up Your Saddle, Infinite Possibilities: A Haiku Journal, Accidental Voices, and Reluctant Traveler; a novel based on a true story, Side Canyons; and three memoirs, When I Came West, Rough Breaks: A Wyoming High Country Memoir, and Spring's Edge: A Ranch Wife's Chronicles.

Laurie has received the Beryl Markham Prize for Creative Nonfiction, the Western Writer's of America Spur Award in Poetry, has twice been named a finalist for the Colorado Book Award and three times named a finalist for the Women Writing the West Willa Cather Literary Award. She was recently awarded the ForeWord Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention for When I Came West.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
Rough Breaks by Laurie Wagner Buyer could have, in my opinion, just as easily been called Tough Breaks. Either way, the writer introduces us to a life in Wyoming's ranch country that is extremely difficult.

The memoir spans a period of about six years in the 1980's that Buyer spent on the O Bar Y Ranch in Wyoming's high country. She'd been living just north of the ranch when she and her partner go their separate ways and Laurie signs on for work and board with Mick Buyer, owner with his wife Margie of the O Bar Y.

Over time, Laurie becomes close to the family and develops a personal relationship with Mick, a tough rancher totally committed to the land and a way of life. The family dynamics, while somewhat unusual, eventually work themselves out.

Laurie partners with Mick not just in a romantic way but in her dedication to the ranch land, livestock and wild animals it shelters. Through Buyer's fine prose, we are afforded generous views of the day to day life on the O Bar Y ranch, from baling hay, mending fences, caring for sick and new born animals, feeding them and much more. Money is always a problem, we learn, and the struggle seems endless.

Buyer's description of the environment--the land, the rivers that run though and the severe climate that the ranchers and their charges endured--is vivid. At times I felt as if I were sinking into the deep snows that obliterated the trails and roads that the ranchers worked so hard to maintain, or fighting against the heavy winds and rains blowing across the landscape.

This readable memoir showed me a glimpse of a way of life I knew nothing about. And what a rough/tough life it is.
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Format: Paperback
Laurie Wagner Buyer has written a beautiful follow-up memoir to her book, When I Came West. In the first book, she followed her heart and romantic notions of life in the wilderness with a mountain man to spend eight years in relative isolation learning about survival in the Montana mountains. Her latest book, Rough Breaks, follows her saga to the next stage, working on a large Wyoming cattle ranch, falling in love with the ranch owner and the cowgirl lifestyle she has chosen, in spite of ongoing hardships and a seemingly endless string of "rough breaks", which continually intrude in her happiness and enjoyment of her surroundings. This book was a reality check for all of us who came out west seeking cowboy or cowgirl dreams, a western lifestyle, and a good, reliable cowpony. Ranch life can be a backbreaking endeavor which beats down the spirit and creates impossibly frustrating and heartbreaking situations. Laurie is tough as nails to endure so much and still find the beauty and focus on the treasured moments to convey through her writing. This was a riveting read which I could not put down until it was finished. It leaves me looking for a follow-up retrospective during what is hopefully still unfolding as a time of peace for Laurie in a very different segment of the West.
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By D. Blair on April 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I didn't like this book as well as her first one ("When I Came West"), but could not resist reading it after having read the author's first book, because I always want to know "the rest of the story." And it definitely wasn't a time-waster at all -- I just thought it was a little choppy, probably because it is a collection of essays written at different times for different publications. If you admire the pioneer spirit and the constant hard work of ranching, this book will meet your expectations.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This memoir is a five-year snapshot of a young woman’s experience in Wyoming’s ranch country during the1980s. The tale, written much like a journal, is a two-faceted story. 

One facet is chock full of ranch work detail. Shortly after the opening pages, Wagner Buyer is hired to work at the O Bar Y Ranch in Wyoming’s high country. Her duties include everything from laundry and mopping floors to herding cattle and cutting hay. Many of the chores require her to work in minus zero degree weather but she deals with the back breaking work without flinching. 

The second facet of Rough Breaks reveals Wagner Buyer’s struggle to fit herself into a vast and wondrous landscape that is at times foreboding and dangerous. Throughout the tale, she wades through the muck and mud of difficult relationships. 

Wagner Buyer’s writing has a quality of immediacy that I deeply appreciated. The reader is in the story feeling the crusty cold snow as well as the author’s desperation to understand people for whom she cares most. I wanted her to find that all-too-often unattainable comfort that comes from mutual love. 

I wish I had read When I Came West, which I understand is a sort of prequel to Rough Breaks. I would have understood Laurie Wagner Buyer’s handling of relationships better I think. 

 A good book worth reading.
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