STRIKING IT RICH by Craig Vetter


Email this review


 Journalist Vetter's first novel is a quick read about a writer who works Wyoming's oil boom and lives to tell about it. The love- interest subplot is thin, but Vetter credibly evokes boomtown hysteria. The narrator, 39, takes off, leaving wife Suzanne behind in California to tend his marijuana plot: ``The plan was simple, maybe even stupid: Get yourself to the roaringest boomtown in the overthrust belt and, just for a change, earn a little steady money.'' He arrives in Westin, Wyoming, only to have an unemployed carpenter steal his car battery. There are no rooms to be had, and prices are crazy. Still, after shaving his beard, he gets a job as a ``worm''--the lowest of the low at the ``biggest rig in Wyoming.'' What follows is a piquant account of the rednecks and lowlifes who inhabit a boomtown as the narrator survives initiation into the work, which is dangerous. After a fall, he takes ``eight aspirin before lunch...might as well have been M&M's.'' Then he moves into a trailer with his boss Sonny (and later Sonny's brother) and proceeds to keep a notebook, aiming for a book--the narrator, like Vetter, writes for Playboy. Monday, the love interest who makes her way by cleaning trailers, discovers the notebook, and later so do Sonny and his brother, who beats the narrator black and blue. But not to worry: Monday chastely tends to his wounds before he hears that Suzanne has been arrested (the marijuana). He hightails it to California, gets his wife off, plus probation for himself, before signing the divorce papers and leaving for a job in Chicago. On the way he stops for Monday, and they ride off into the sunset. Though Vetter too coyly fails to distinguish between journalism and fiction, and though the novel is programmatic, Vetter's journalistic eye is on-target: a clear depiction of oil- town hoopla and low-rent exploitation.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-10609-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991