Vail Daily Books: Fayhee’s greatest hits the Dam
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
If there’s one thing John Fayhee is, it’s honest – even when he’s misrepresenting or embellishing the facts.
Fayhee, editor-in-chief of the Mountain Gazette, is a storyteller at heart – and a damn good one, at that. He intuitively knows when to stretch the details to make the tale a bit taller, yet he always maintains the integrity, and therefore overarching truth, of his stories.
His latest book, “Bottoms Up: M. John Fayhee’s Greatest Hits from the Mountain Gazette,” encompasses his favorite stories that have appeared in the Mountain Gazette, but with this reincarnation, he tells them on his terms –unbridled, brazen, with tangents and loops and, most importantly, without acquiescing to the overrated (and sorely overused) people-pleasing editor who exists solely to perch on writers’ shoulders with a 5-foot red marker, loudly demanding they pen nothing but politically correct, couched verbiage that does not run more than 22 words per sentence. (Happily, this last sentence runs a full 89 words, in honor of Fayhee’s “Lurking Reprobate Drinking Buddy,” who freed said author to write what he wanted, exactly how he wanted about drugs, beer, trail lust, ass-kicking towns, pickled bar food, Clif Bars and other incidentals.)
The result: a higher honesty of expression, which unfolds, spirals, backtracks and bar hops in the most witty way possible.
From the moment readers pick up the book, seemingly held together by duct tape on the spine, and open the cover (shot by Summit Daily’s own Mark Fox and depicting Fayhee with Frisco Main Street in the background), they know they’re in for a divergent ride. In bold print, it states “R” for Restricted,” further expounding a warning about the book’s content, which includes very bad language, a variety of lies, tippling, and sexual references, though “not nearly enough.”
Through his stories, Fayhee bounces from philosophical to hysterical, with a touch of sadness in-between. About 40 percent of the tales take place in the High Country (Fayhee lived in Summit County for 19 years and was one of the original reporters at the Summit Daily) and about 40 percent in his current stomping grounds of New Mexico.
His style is distinctively Mountain Gazette – as he described the publication last week at the Moosejaw: “funky, hipper and way cooler than ‘Rolling Stone.'” The stories in Mountain Gazette strongly influenced both his choice of career and writing style; he read the magazine from 1976 until it died in 1979. In early 2000, the opportunity to revive it fell into his lap, and he’s been involved, and contributing, ever since.
The continuous theme throughout his latest book underscores the importance of storytelling and the threat of it becoming an endangered species, especially in chapter three. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to choose the most compelling part of “I Dropped a Clif Bar on Jon Krakauer’s Head: The Evolution of a Bar Story.” It could be the hilarity of the story. It could be Fayhee’s explanation of what makes a good story. Or it could be the oddity that his footnotes just may be longer than the main story itself.
What’s certain is “Bottoms Up” is the kind of book one can return to again and again, and still find it filled to the brim with entertainment.