Summary and book reviews of Wyoming by JP Gritton

Wyoming

by JP Gritton

Wyoming by JP Gritton X
Wyoming by JP Gritton
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Nov 2019, 246 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Ian Muehlenhaus
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About this Book

Book Summary

A cross between Daniel Woodrell and Annie Proulx, Wyoming is about the stubborn grip of inertia and whether or not it is possible to live without accepting oneself.

It's 1988 and Shelley Cooper is in trouble. He's broke, he's been fired from his construction job, and his ex-wife has left him for their next door neighbor and a new life in Kansas City. The only opportunity on his horizon is fifty pounds of his brother's high-grade marijuana, which needs to be driven from Colorado to Houston and exchanged for a lockbox full of cash. The delivery goes off without a hitch, but getting home with the money proves to be a different challenge altogether. Fueled by a grab bag of resentments and self punishment, Shelley becomes a case study in the question of whether it's possible to live without accepting yourself, and the dope money is the key to a lock he might never find. JP Gritton's portrait of a hapless aspirant at odds with himself and everyone around him is both tender and ruthless, and Wyoming considers the possibility of redemption in a world that grants forgiveness grudgingly, if at all.

I guess you're wondering how I ended up with a woman like Syrena, in the first place. Truth is, it's Mike's fault. He's the one to blame. Or to thank, I don't know which. It was Mike Corliss who turned to me on this too-hot afternoon beginning of September. The four of us ought to go out sometime. Double Dutch, I mean. And I remember him smiling at me while my guts turned somersaults.  He was a different man those days, full of piss and vinegar. He had a smart mouth on him, and he wasn't afraid to use it either, which is why Laughton Starbuck kind of had it out for Mike.

"Where's your protective eyewear, Corliss?"

"My protective eyewear?"

"That's what I asked you."

"My protective eyewear's protecting the dashboard of Sheldon Cooper's truck. That's where I left it this morning."

Sheldon, he used to call me, 'cause he knew it got on my nerves. To everybody else I was Shelley.

I was just a journeyman carpenter back then. I drove Lij's ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

There is not much action, but the character and situational dramas are so deep and vivid that Wyoming never bores. Fire is the principal theme; the book begins with a forest fire, and proceeds to run through a series of fiery relationships and smoldering guilt. It ends with the reader trying to find salvation through the smoke and ashes. Is Shelley a guileless dupe? His own worst enemy? An anti-hero? The author succeeds at making the reader care enough to find out...continued

Full Review Members Only (576 words).

(Reviewed by Ian Muehlenhaus).

Media Reviews

Shelf Awareness
Gritton writes Shelley's voice in a vernacular readers can almost hear spoken aloud. He doesn't talk much, but when he does, Shelley's speech bites, and Gritton's prose is curt but expressive....This shadowy novel of desperate acts, brothers, friends and grudges pulls readers relentlessly down a complicated and uncertain road.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Pitch perfect cadences sing from the mouths of Gritton's characters, and the author performs skilled loop-de-loops in and out of Shelley's memories. This auspicious debut marks Gritton as a storyteller to watch.

Kirkus (starred review)
It takes a great writer to make a character as reprehensible as Shelley not only sympathetic, but almost likable...An affecting, richly drawn, darkly humorous novel about grifting siblings, one worse than the other.

Author Blurb Alice McDermott, author of The Ninth Hour
From its first assured sentence to its last, Wyoming marks the debut of a gifted storyteller. This is a compassionate novel, for all its violence and despair, an authentic, pitch-perfect portrait of an America too often caricatured or ignored. There are hard truths here, grit and cruelty, but JP Gritton's fine prose is nuanced enough, generous enough, to keep his troubled narrator's humanity, his beating heart, apparent at every turn.

Author Blurb Justin St. Germain, author of Son of a Gun
J.P. Gritton's Wyoming is a taut, headlong novel about friendship, brotherhood, and bad decisions?what a man might do for a chance at a different life, and who he might be willing to hurt. Shelley Cooper is a blue-collar antihero, flawed but compelling, in the tradition of Daniel Woodrell or Donald Ray Pollock. When trouble beckons, he just can't help himself, and you can't help but root for him, even as he leaves a trail of wreckage in his wake.

Author Blurb Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown
Money, family, sex, crime, and mayhem?Wyoming combines the thrill of genre work with the genuine human investigation one hopes to see in a literary novel, and the result is wickedly pleasurable and satisfyingly disturbing. J.P. Gritton's terse prose about dark-minded men reminds me of the novels of Pete Dexter. This is a marvelous debut and a writer to watch.

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Beyond the Book

An Interview with JP Gritton

JP Gritton author photoI took some time to ask the author about his background, and the origins and themes of his unique and tightly-crafted debut novel, Wyoming.

Q: Could you tell me a little about yourself? Where are you from originally, where are you now, and how did you come to write this novel?

I was born in Boulder, Colorado, which was a funky, hippyish town back in the day, and still sort of is. I love Boulder, but being honest I don't know how much growing up there informed this novel. Except, my first job out of college was working on a construction crew all over Boulder Valley. I wrote the opening chapter-or-so for Wyoming over the course of that time, but I figured out pretty quickly that, if I wanted to write and talk about books (which I ...

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