The Legend of Colton H Bryant, By Alexandra Fuller

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The Independent Culture

The Wyoming oil-rig worker Colton H Bryant had his life obliterated by the brute force of the rigs when he was 25 years old. The author of the bestselling memoir Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight here vividly resurrects his life to show the factors that led to its cruel curtailment.

Bryant is "born with horses and oil in his blood", and metal and diesel are childhood scents. He knows "the freedom of adolescence right before you have to grow up and get really damaged in ways that never, ever heal". Alexandra Fuller shows the devastating physical and psychological damage caused by life on the rigs. The landscape of a "lonely hell in the middle of nowhere" is brilliantly evoked, and Fuller's gorgeous prose contains striking factual nuggets, such as "Gillette syndrome", which was named after a Wyoming town and coined to describe the depression and lawlessness which can befall booming coal towns.

Fuller exposes the hardships plaguing "oil-rig roughnecks": "mechanical dispassion", profit valued above people, addiction, greed. She also movingly shows "rough Wyoming justice" challenged by the tenderness of a family's love.