Ishawooa, Wyoming, is far from bucolic nowadays. The sheriff, Crane Carlson, needs no reminder of this but gets one anyway when he finds a kid not yet twenty murdered in a meth lab. His other troubles include a wife whos going off the rails with bourbon and pot, and his own symptoms of the disease that killed his grandfather.
Einar Gilkyson, taking stock at eighty, counts among his dead a lifelong friend, a wife andfar too youngtheir only child; and his long-absent sister has lately returned home from Chicago after watching her soul mate die. His granddaughter, Griff, has dropped out of college to look after him, though Einar would rather she continue with her studies and her boyfriend, Paul. Completing this extended family are Barnum McEban and his ward, Kenneth, a ten-year-old whose motherPaul's sisteris off marketing spiritual enlightenment.
What these characters have to contend with on a daily basis is bracing enough, involving car accidents, runaway children, strokes and Lou Gehrig's disease, not to mention the motorcycle rallies and rodeos that flood the tiny local jail. But as their lives become even more strained, hardship foments exceptional compassion and generosity, and those caught in their own sorrow alleviate the same in others, changing themselves as they do so. In this gripping story, along with harsh truths and difficult consolation come moments of hilarity and surprise and beauty. No one writes more compellingly about the modern West than Mark Spragg, and in Bone Fire he is at the very height of his powers.
"Although there are some touching moments, most of the novel is humorless to the point of parody, and the attempt at tying together everything at the end feels forced." - Publishers Weekly
"Sometimes subtle and affecting, but there's too little about the characters and too much about the noble landscapes and mindscapes of the vanishing West. " - Kirkus Reviews
"Starred Review. A tribute to the human state and an outstanding work highly recommended for anyone who appreciates a well-crafted novel." - Library Journal
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Mark Spragg is the author of four books, including Where Rivers Change Direction, a memoir that won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, and The Fruit of Stone, a novel. He lives with his wife, Virginia, in Wyoming.
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