Synopses & Reviews
From its roots as the quintessential Western pastime, rodeo has grown to an international, prime-time television sport. Steeped in tradition and the independent spirit of the range, aspiring cowboys and cowgirls are called to its high-stakes, rough-and-tumble fame as they risk their lives for eight seconds of triumph.
In Chasing the Rodeo W. K. Stratton follows this quest for one season of the pro rodeo and bull-riding tours. He explores the history of the chutes -- from rodeo's disputed origins (Prescott, Arizona, or Pecos, Texas?) to its current skyrocketing popularity. But out on the trail Stratton finds more than calf-roping and unrideable bulls, uncovering a culture complete with myths, codes of honor, million-dollar purses, Cowboy Church, and the kinds of legends that make good stories unforgettable.
Just such a story emerges here as Stratton tells of his runaway "rodeo bum" father --Cowboy Don -- whose specter haunts his travels on the circuit. As he learns more about the life that proved too seductive for his father to abandon, Stratton fills in a portrait of the man he never knew but whose legacy he couldn't help but inherit.
Filled with cowboy longing and rodeo dreams, this is a tribute to the characters of the West -- Freckles Brown, Lucille Mulhall (the first cowgirl), Wild Bill Hickock, Lane Frost, and today's superstars like Jesse Bail. In the great tradition of Wallace Stegner and Ken Kesey, W. K. Stratton fashions an expansive tale out of the gritty reality of the life around us. Chasing the Rodeo is a bucking, riveting, glorious ride -- you'll want to hang on for the whole go-round.
"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)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A celebration of hard play. Worth the trouble of saddling up and follow[ing] along."
PRAISE FOR BACKYARD BRAWL
"Backyard Brawl is well-researched and entertaining, and it's a credit to Stratton-a naturalized Texan-that he can weave the stories of past and present together without turning it into a book-sized version of either school's phone-book-size football media guides."
-SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
"Aside from this book's obvious appeal to sports fans and others, it had the power to make a non-fan like myself go introspective. This is the function of art."-THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
"A "can't put it down" read that tells much about the top rodeos and competing cowboys of today and yesteryear." <br>
"Stratton demonstrates vividly that rodeo has always been as richly diverse as the country that gave it birth."
"A gem of a book. It sings. It is beautifully written. It vibrates with life. It is a treasure."
"A big-hearted, enjoyable ride into our national identity; where myth collides with reality, and nothing is ever what it seems."
"Vivid rodeo life and lore for armchair cowpoked and bowlegged hands alike, by a devoted 'kicker with a literary bent.'"<br>
"Informative, engaging, moving. It's as good a book on this wild sport as there is ever likely to be."
"Fascinating. It's hard not to come away without a sense of appreciation that the world of cowboys isn't really lost."
"Chasing the Rodeo demonstrates rodeo's rich tradition, and it vividly illuminates the trials both inside and outside the ring."
This book reveals rodeo in all its truth and myths, all its glory and brutality.
"Even if you consider yourself an expert, this book will surprise and charm you with fascinating tales and heartfelt insight."
"A memorable ride through the bumpy, bucking history of a gritty American pastime."
PRAISE FOR CHASING THE RODEO
"Filled with delicious rodeo tidbits. Stratton's the perfect tour guide, a natural-born storyteller whose prose is as lean as a cowboy and as poetic as a sunset, rendered with a delight and wonder that are downright infectious."--The Boston Globe
"If you love the sound of the bell, the thud of hooves, and the sight of a twisting ton-and-a-half bovine, round up a copy of this book."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
From its roots as the quintessential Western pastime, rodeo has grown into an international, prime-time television sport. Steeped in tradition and spirit, the rodeo calls aspiring cowboys and cowgirls to its rough-and-tumble fame as they repeatedly risk their lives for eight seconds of triumph. In Chasing the Rodeo, Kip Stratton takes us into the addictive core of bull riding and the circuit that has grown up around it. Immersing himself in the world of rodeo, Stratton collides with the specter of his runaway "rodeo bum" father, finding part of the cowboy dream that was his father's legacy.
As much a tribute to the famed characters of the old West-Freckles Brown, Lucille Mulhall (the first cowgirl), Wild Bill Hickok, Lane Frost-as it is a riveting look at today's superstars who are triumphantly rocketing the sport to NASCAR fan levels, Chasing the Rodeo is a bucking, riveting, glorious ride.
About the Author
W.K. (Kip) Stratton is the author of four books, including Backyard Brawl, Chasing the Rodeo, and Boxing Shadows. He has written for GQ, Sports Illustrated, Outside, Texas Observer, the Dallas Morning News, and others. He lives near Austin, Texas.
Table of Contents
1. Essential Travel
The National Finals Rodeo
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma- December 1967
2. Looking for Junior Bonner
The World's Oldest Rodeo
Prescott, Arizona- July 2003
3. Ranging Out
The Daddy of 'Em All
Cheyenne, Wyoming- July 2003
4. A Lot of Flourish
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma- August 2003
5. Lettin' 'Er Buck
Pendleton, Oregon- September 2003
6. Coda: The Last Rodeo
Leakey, Texas- July 2004
The National Finals Rodeo
Las Vegas, Nevada- December 2003