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  • By Jon Chandler
    Aug 4, 2010
    Three decades or so ago, a co-worker and I flew into Casper, rented a car, and headed northeast, toward Gillette. We stopped at the Rimrock Inn in Midwest, Wyoming for a burger and a beer on our way to meet our clients from Atlantic Richfield in the new company town of Wright. We slid into a red naugahyde booth and began finalizing plans for a celebration in the town’s honor that would be emceed by the legendary journalist Red Fenwick. The door opened, a cowboy type walked in and made his way directly to our booth. “You Chandler?” he asked.” I nodded. “Red sent me.” That’s how I met Bill Jones. It was a couple of years before Jones let on as to how he found me. Since Midwest, Wyoming is the middle of nowhere for people who are from the middle of nowhere, how in the world could he have known someone he’d never met would be in that red-flocked wallpapered dive? “It’s the only bar between Casper and Gillette,” was his answer. Sound thinking, indeed. Bill Jones has always used fewer words... More > to describe bigger concepts than anyone in my experience. He’s a deep thinking, wide ranging, hell raising, give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back fella, and now he’s written his first book, Heel-fly and the Wily Wapiti and other Wyoming Tales. It’s pure Jonesy, and manages to instantly position him as a unique western writer of non-fiction/fiction, meaning some of his adventures are related in journalistic fashion, and some are, um, augmented a bit… a little stretched to fit the narrative’s flow. Jones is a master storyteller, as much a part of the West as the Hole in the Wall’s red dust or the Wyoming wind. His stories, recollections, poems, narratives and big windies are related with dry humor, and often breathtaking prose. A case in point: His Hole in the Wall essay, Run That By Again, contains an almost Homeric passage he shared with me a few years ago that’s become one of my favorite pieces of western writing. “The Dipper slipped on, then gradually vaporized as quiet dawn once again came on shift, snuffing fireflies, nudging nocturnal scavengers, readjusting shadows and embryo auras of light, releasing bird sounds, allowing the deer time for the perfect terrestrial blending through which to pick their way safely upwards from the meadows and streams into the cover of the timber to shade-up and ruminate. Then the imperceptible spreading of solar luminescence flowed across the big valley, spilled off the edge of the Red Wall and suddenly penetrated into the evergreens on the mountainside, and colors bloomed; It was a magic time. It was purity. It was conception. It was simplicity. It was incredibly complex.” These tales of hunting camps, saddle bronc riders, hardscrabble ranchers, oil rig workers, accidental near-drownings, horse wrecks, and Denver dudes have an authenticity that can only be found around the campfire or the cracker barrel. While giving the reader a peek at what it means to be from the rural West, Jones is a local, and he speaks for the locals. (Only once does he step outside the purely western circle with Hell If I Know, his harrowing autobiographical chronicle of his B-24 Liberator bomber’s crash in 1945, and his ensuing imprisonment in a German stalag.) As a bonus, Jones has also released a CD, Great Great Great Grandfather Stories, that includes his performance of Gransel & Hetel, his slightly confused retelling of a famous fairy tale that has caused uproarious laughter around a million campfires throughout the west. All in all, Heel-fly and the Wily Wapiti and other Wyoming Tales is a delightful collection of stories from one of Wyoming’s treasures. Bill Jones is western in the same way Lewis Grizzard was southern. Wyoming flows in his veins, and readers of western lore are lucky it flows from his pen, as well.< Less
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Product Details

May 25, 2010
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Full color
0.66 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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