Taylor Brorby’s Boys and Oil

Center, North Dakota—with its handful of bars and churches filled with coal miners and no stop lights or grocery stores—is a tough place to grow up, much more so for a young gay man in the process of discovering who he is. Poet and essayist Taylor Brorby recounts the trials and triumphs of his childhood in his new memoir Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured Land, which he will read from and discuss on Thursday, Aug. 25, at Elk River Books.

According to the publisher, Boys and Oil “brings new focus to a chronically ignored region of the country whose rich resources—its land and its people—are too often ravaged for America’s expedient purposes. Brorby recounts his story, and that of the prairie, too, interweaving historic coal-country vignettes with scenes from his youth to forge a new path across a notoriously unforgiving landscape.

“Haunting and deeply affecting, Boys and Oil is as much a book about growing up gay in rural America as it is an extraordinary paean to the natural environment, and a plea to stop destroying the land we call home.”

Terry Tempest Williams writes, “I have been waiting for this book. Boys and Oil is more than a memoir, it is a protest. Brorby has created a bridge between daydreams and nightmares, the gentle stirrings of the prairie and the violence of the oil and gas industry. The literary West is more complete because of this stand-up story of beauty and brokenness.”

Brorby is the co-editor of Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America. His work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Orion, and North American Review, where he is a contributing editor. His work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Book Critics Circle, the MacDowell Colony, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Mesa Refuge, Blue Mountain Center, and the North Dakota Humanities Council.

He is currently the Annie Tanner Clark Fellow in Environmental Humanities and Environmental Justice at the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah.

The free event will take place at 7 p.m. at Elk River Books, 122 S. 2nd St. in Livingston.

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