CHASING THE RODEO: On Wild Rides and Big Dreams, Broken Hearts and Broken Bones, and One Man's Search for the West

W. K. Stratton, Author . Harcourt $25 (326p) ISBN 978-0-15-101072-1

Stratton has penned a lively, earnest portrayal of the lives of the cowboys—and cowgirls—who compete in the dangerous but apparently addictive sport of rodeo. The author is a Southwestern native, and his estranged father was a "rodeo bum" about whom Stratton (Backyard Brawl ) knew relatively little. A quest to discover more about this man, whom he calls "Cowboy Don," provides a framework for Stratton's exploration of rodeo itself, and while this hunt is certainly not the book's strongest aspect, it doesn't become overbearing or distracting, either. The volume's muscle lies in Stratton's crisp descriptions of the wild, harrowing events and the towns that host them. The same way some people simply can look natural in skin-tight jeans, boots and shirts with pearl buttons, so too can Stratton wax cowboy poetic about "rank horses," "broncs" and his beloved "501s" without sounding corny. His affinity for the sport clearly colors his opinion about the concerns of animal rights activists, an issue he addresses in an author's note. Still, his book demonstrates rodeo's rich tradition, and it vividly illuminates the trials both inside and outside the ring. Agent, David McCormick. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/07/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 326 pages - 978-0-15-603121-9
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