Burning Fence A Western Memoir of Fatherhood

Craig Lesley




Trade Paperback

384 Pages



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Burning Fence is the story of the men in Craig Lesley's family: absent father, Rudell, tough stepfather, Vern, adopted son, Wade, and Craig Lesley himself. Their story is one of hardship, violence, and cautious, heartbreaking attempts toward compassion. Lesley's fearless journey through his family history provides a portrait of hard living in the Western states.


Praise for Burning Fence

"Burning Fence paints an indelible portrait of subsistence existence in the pre-Microsoft Northwest . . . Unforgettable."—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Vividly lyrical . . . Lesley brings his talents as a novelist—believable dialogue, compelling detail, well-developed personalities—to the page."—The Seattle Times

"It is as raw and real as a psychiatrist's couch—though infinitely more revealing and immensely entertaining."—News-Times (Newport, Oregon)

"I experienced Craig Lesley's Burning Fence as an addiction of sorts—everything else in my life got pushed off to the side so I could live in its pages. A seminal work of Western literature."—David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars

"Lesley has written an extraordinary memoir that speaks to the remarkable depth of his life experience. This is a splendid work, beautifully told and deeply moving."—Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

"This vivid, unflinching story of Lesley's own life, as a son and a father, can only serve to increase his already considerable stature as a writer—and, not incidentally, as a human being."—Kent Haruf, author of Plainsong

"Beyond the legends of the West and the fables of fatherhood, Craig Lesley's beautiful memoir comes forward with one man's personal truth. One of his bravest and truest works to date."—Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent

"Craig Lesley is intimate with denied ambitions, the heartbreak of living poor and out of the loop in rural America, and the cracked humor with which the disenfranchised so often respond. If you want to understand what's going on in the backlands of our nation, begin by reading this."—William Kittredge, author of The Nature of Generosity

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Craig Lesley

  • Craig Lesley received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award for The Sky Fisherman, Winterkill, and Talking Leaves. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches at Portland State University.