A Kirkus Best Fiction of 2019 Pick!
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.
From its first assured sentence to its last, Wyoming marks the debut of a gifted story-teller. This is a compassionate novel, for all its violence and despair, an authentic, pitch-perfect portrait of 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.
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 David Woodrell or Donald Ray Pollack. 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.
—Justin St. Germaine, author of Son of a Gun