A 2014 Kansas Notable Book
“An affecting memoir of life in small-town Kansas…. For a young Rebein, the world of wrecked cars became a wonderland, and he writes lyrically of the things that turned up in them, from porn to lighters to photographs to ammunition…. A well-crafted work, and an all-too rare glimpse of daily life in rural America.”
“In many ways, (Rebein’s) experience mirrors that of a whole generation who grew up in rural places knowing that they would leave. And then they return as visitors to a place where they can’t stay, but can’t stay away from.”
Rex Buchanan, Kansas Public Radio
“Rebein…evocatively reconstructs what it was like growing up in Dodge in the 1970s and ‘80s as the farming and ranching economy soured. The result is a riveting meditation not just on the Old West versus the New West but on how to treat the past with reverence while refusing to become trapped by it.”
“Language and stories are two vital aspects of memoir. Dragging Wyatt Earp excels on both counts…. Rebein’s memoir gives us a chance to think about our own relationship with our own hometown, recall our own stories, our own dreams. The book helps us remember the things we treasured in our town, what we took away from that place and what we left behind.”
In Dragging Wyatt Earp essayist Robert Rebein explores what it means to grow up in, leave, and ultimately return to the iconic Western town of Dodge City, Kansas. In chapters ranging from memoir to reportage to revisionist history, Rebein contrasts his hometown’s Old West heritage with a New West reality that includes salvage yards, beefpacking plants, and bored teenagers cruising up and down Wyatt Earp Boulevard.
Along the way, Rebein covers a vast expanse of place and time and revisits a number of Western myths, including those surrounding Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the Cheyenne chief Black Kettle, George Armstrong Custer, and of course Wyatt Earp himself. Rebein rides a bronc in a rodeo, spends a day as a pen rider at a local feedlot, and attempts to “buck the tiger” at Dodge City’s new Boot Hill Casino and Resort.
Funny and incisive, Dragging Wyatt Earp is an exciting new entry in what is sometimes called the nonfiction of place. It is a must- read for anyone interested in Western history, contemporary memoir, or the collision of Old and New West on the High Plains of Kansas.
Robert Rebein grew up in Dodge City, Kansas, where his family has farmed and
ranched since the late 1920s. A graduate of the University
of Kansas and Washington University in St. Louis, as well
as England’s Exeter University, Rebein teaches creative writing and directs the graduate program in English at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis.
In addition to Dragging Wyatt Earp, he is the author of Hicks, Tribes, and Dirty Realists, a study of the role of place in contemporary American fiction.
He lives in Irvington, on the east side of Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife, Alyssa Chase, and their two children, Ria and Jake.
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