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The Legend of Colton H. Bryant Hardcover – May 6, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fuller’s re-creation of the brief life of Colton H. Bryant is the story of a third-generation oil-patch worker in Wyoming. Spotlessly capturing the distinctive scenes from his life, Fuller takes readers into the Bryant family and the small-town community and oil rigs they inhabited. To know Colton, who “has a way of tearing out of the chute, firing with all hooves at once,” one must experience him, and Fuller, with pinpoint detailing and a deadeye aim on Wyoming dialect, teases out a portrait of a young man that is staggering in its spareness, and heartbreaking in its tenderness. But, “like all westerns, this story is a tragedy before it even starts because there was never a way for anyone to win against all the odds out here.” The stacked deck belongs to the oil companies, of course, and the lesson learned from Colton’s life and death is that human life is small change and protecting it isn’t in the best interest of profit. Although it’s little consolation, 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
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594201838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201837
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,093,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I recently heard Alexandra speak at the Jackson Hole Writers Conference and she had me at hello. Her passion for finding and telling Colton's story was as essential as breathing, as drinking water. As she worked on the story, spending time away from her family to drive the wide open roads of Wyoming or to spend time on the oil patch, the sacrifice seemed worth it. For as she says, all there is and will ever be is the story teller and the story told. I was most touched by how much she lived the story. When spending hour after hour writing the story, she would occasionally tell her kids, "When you set the table tonight, set a place for Colton." Her compassion and care come across throughout the writing as she carefully weaves together the beauty and tragedy of Colton H. Bryant. She "gave away" the story during reading; and even when I knew the ending, I found the words and scenes and descriptions stacking themselves around me, creating a place of beauty and sorrow and rest. I spent 10 days in Wyoming, paddling, driving, attending a rodeo, falling in love with the vastness of land. Fuller's book gave me a story of people and place to help me come to know this place on an even deeper level.
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Format: Hardcover
There is a Talmudic expression "He who destroys a life, destroys a world entire." Alexandra Fuller captured a "world" from beginning to end. By the end of it, and after it...you are set to wondering about every anonymous teenager you see working in a fast food joint - for that was one memory I had of Wyoming - but it might as well be anywhere these days . You wonder about the things they are going through (or will go through) and whether you would be in tears if you knew. The more you think about that, the more likely the answer is yes. Which brings up the second half of the saying, which concerns saving a world by saving a life. If you read this book, you will get to know Kaylee and Bill, Jake and Colton, and you will be the better for it. And you will be forced to wonder if Jake had an anxious premonition about his buddy the night of the accident. You will wonder about the timing of the sun dog and about other things that we don't much talk about. And after a while you wonder if UPL can afford handrails on their rigs or requirements that rigs should always have at least one experienced person around at all times. You wonder about the safety officer whose main concern while Colton lay dying was obtaining a blood test to exonerate the company(!). Lots of things to wonder about. If you don't want to be set to wondering, don't buy this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the best books I've ever read. As a new resident of Wyoming(Jackson Hole), this book introduced me to the real Wyoming, lending a personal feel to the towns and people among the "vast emptiness". My drives through La Barge, Marbleton, Big Piney, Kemmerer and the like, will never be the same, enhanced by the understanding of the people that work and live in these towns. That being said, this is a book for those who have never set foot in Wyoming, for those who have never ventured from big city America. This book writes about the unsung heroes of our country.

The character development and dialogue will have the reader racing through pages while at the same time pausing frequently to postpone the end to some of the best reading since A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was published.
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Format: Hardcover
Through her investigative reports of the effect of the oil industry on the western way of life, Alexandra Fuller stumbled across a story that grabbed a hold of her heart and pen. A generational oil patch worker didn't say enough about this simple Wyoming boy with a spirit for forgiveness and laughter who had but one wish: to be like his father. Fuller takes on the voice of Wyoming's brutal elements, endearing family and friends, and the soul of its society to present a gut-wrenching story that will haunt you after the final page has fallen flat between the covers. She delivers this story in prose alive with the harsh vastness of the wild Wyoming west and the loyalty of the souls who live it, work it and love it.

I sojourned quickly through "The Legend of Colton H. Bryant," tugged along by a steady, poetic voice that drew me into this poignant story of an American boy who lived a short life as a grown man. This sheds light on big oil and our country's glutton thirst for more--at all cost.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a heartbreaker of a book that will also make you angry. Based on a true story - though the author herself says at the end that she took some liberties with the material, so it's hard to know how "creative" the book is as creative nonfiction. Nonetheless, you come to know its central character, Colton, as a young man who's the product of an LDS upbringing in small-town and rural Wyoming. Not much of a student and pegged as a "slow learner," he compensates for the meager hand he's been dealt with an enthusiasm for living, a love of his friends and family, and a talent for overcoming obstacles ("Mind over matter" is his motto - "I don't mind, so it don't matter") that leaves everyone else shaking their heads in disbelief.

We learn a lot about southwestern Wyoming, the winds, the extremes of weather, and the limited opportunities for a young man, which are mostly comprised of the ups and downs of oil extraction in desolate areas of the state. Here, at the age of 25, he is employed and working to make ends meet for a young wife, her son that he's adopted, and their own infant boy. And that's where the story ends. Although not without a final comment about the indifference to human safety in the pursuit of profits by Colton's employer, Patterson-UTI. This is a slim volume, made up of short chapters that are often little more than vignettes, each capturing a moment in a young life and ending up finally as a eulogy.
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