fredag 24 maj 2013


One of my colleagues suggested I write my blog in English. Naturally I concurred; it’s a treat to be able to relax back into the mother tongue. I come from Wyoming – that’s saying something as there aren’t that many of us. It’s the least populated state in the U.S. The largest city and state capital, Cheyenne, has fewer people than Kristiansand’s Kommun.

I used to tell people there were more cattle than people in Wyoming, my sister-in-law added: “there are more rattlesnakes than people in Wyoming”; also true.

When I moved to Sweden and got married I told my wife it was to get away from Country music. This wasn’t entirely true; fortunately, since I didn’t.

But prior to last summer I hadn’t been back for twenty years. Visiting an old friend and his wife I heard about a couple of local authors worth reading. I was sceptical.

There is one good writer living in Wyoming, but she’s imported. Annie Proulx is famous for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Shipping News set in Newfoundland. She’s also written two collections of short stories set in Wyoming.

Close Range from 1999 (Berättelser från vidderna 2000) is well known, at least, for the story Brokeback Mountain about two unhappy cowboys. Unfortunately everybody in the book is pretty much unhappy – and they are all losers. This is not the image the Wyoming Tourist board strives to project. Possibly it is due to them that her second collection Bad Dirt from 2004 (Vilda vägar 2006) is a lot more fun. In this book she gave her imagination free rein. And while the characters are recognizably crazy, they are at least not all losers; or, if losers, unaware of the fact and happy with their lot. Her dialogue is a pure pleasure to read. Here is a sample from “The contest”; about a book:
“Come on in,” she said. “I think I found you a good one. But it’s hard readin. A lot of foreign language and them sideways leanin words.”

One of the authors recommended to me this past summer is C.J. Box. He has a couple of books translated into Swedish but unfortunately they are thrillers set in Montana and Idaho! This is disappointing as Box is best known for his Joe Pickett novels.

Joe is a game warden – not your common detective as a warden’s main job is checking fishing licenses and taking care of injured wildlife. But Joe tends to get involved in all kinds of trouble. And as a real son of the west, he doesn’t back down.

Joe lives with his family up near the Big Horn mountain range in north central Wyoming but he gets around In the last book I read: Nowhere to Run he was down in the San Madre Mountains in South Central Wyoming. I’ve never been there, never even heard of them. In the book Below Zero one of Joe’s cronies, following criminals down the highway, passes through the small town in Eastern Wyoming where I grew up.

I’ll admit I am impressed with Box. His characters and language are believable, the scenes are well painted – and Wyoming – most parts – is a dramatic backdrop, as is the weather. The plots are well thought through and Box sure knows how to spin a yarn – as we say out west.

More later…

Michael Bafford

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