The Legend of Colton H. Bryant by Alexandra Fuller
You may know the author from her memoir, Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight. If so, this biographical novel (is this a genre?) about a young man who lives a brief but spirited life in Wyoming, eventually ending up working an oil rig. In essence, a true story with which she admits to taking some license, but also clearly did her homework on both the man and his surroundings.
Her lush descriptions of the vast landscape, and the characters that inhabit it read like a western novel. At times I needed to remind myself these were real people, they were written about with such fullness and grace.
"What he could never teach Colton was a saddle-bronc rider's trick of slowing down time until you knew the shape of it, until you could possess it, until it was yours to stretch out or shrink - knowing that eight seconds is both short enough to hold onto and long enough to get yourself killed. That's the full, fat poetry of eight seconds."
This way of life is completely foreign to a suburban east coast girl, and my only complaint is I would have liked to learn a little bit more about the mechanics of drilling for oil. But that should be forgiven, since the focus of the book is Colton and his generous, wild heart.
I have seen some reviews that claim this as a powerful indictment of oil companies. I didn't see it quite the same way, but it remains both tragic and enlightening.