On Wednesday, September 6, at 5:30 pm MDT, at WMNU’s Light Hall, M. John Fayhee, one-time editor of the famed Mountain Gazette magazine, will offer readings from his new book, A Long Tangent: Musings from an old man and his young dog hiking every day for a year, and sign copies.
Tim Cahill, bestselling author of Hold the Enlightenment, Road Fever, and Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, has written of A Long Tangent: “John Fayhee is the OG of literary outdoor writing in the modern era. His accounts of these several hundred hikes serve as contemplations on his life, trails, trucks, and abiding respect for the land he walks upon. There is a lot of hard-won wisdom in this book. And, oh yeah, it’s funny as hell.”
Silver City resident, M. John Fayhee, shares how this book came about. “As my 60th birthday approached, I decided to do something of relative note,” says Fayhee. “I had real-life responsibilities that did not allow me to, say, attempt to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I had to concoct a challenging scheme that I could integrate into my day-to-day life that would not incline my wife toward seeking the services of a divorce lawyer.”
The idea to hike every day for a solid year evolved from a similar, though less ambitious, endeavor undertaken the previous year.
“My 40th high school reunion was coming up fast,” says Fayhee, who has been a participant in the Southwest Word Fiesta three times, and who will appear in the 2023 SWWF in October . “I undertook a futile effort to drop a few pounds by hiking for what turned out to be 41 straight days. Even during my multi-month forays along the Appalachian, Colorado, Arizona and Continental Divide trails, I never went more than a fortnight without taking what is now known in backpacking circles as a ‘zero day.’”
While sitting on a barstool one evening, Fayhee decided to expand that undertaking.
“I downed a few pints at a bar in downtown Silver City, scribbled some shockingly legible notes about embarking upon a quest to hike every day for a year on a cocktail napkin, walked out to my ancient 4Runner and bounced the idea off my dog, Casey, who had been contentedly snoozing on the back seat,” Fayhee says. “Casey responded positively to the notion. So that was that. The next day, we bushwhacked to the top of a local peak and hiked for 366 straight days after that.”
Fayhee’s reading is part of a larger book-release soiree organized by Mimbres Press of Western New Mexico University. Also presenting will be poet Arturo Magaña Amaya, who will read from his recently released book, Nostalgias de November. The event will be catered by Bear Mountain Lodge.
Fayhee will be introduced at Light Hall by Nina Burleigh, award-winning journalist and a NYT bestselling author of seven acclaimed works of creative nonfiction.
Acclaimed outdoor author Craig Childs, author of House of Rain, Atlas of a Lost World, and The Secret Knowledge of Water, who wrote the book’s forward, writes: “In a year of hiking, Fayhee’s words come to about three miles per hour, which is how fast a person should read, space enough to pause and look around, easily finding your bearings. His walking is not with feet alone, but with characters and ideas, with a young dog at his side and a mind meant for roaming. He spreads life out like fabric and treads across it to stretch it out. These are not epic quests full of doubt and danger, but the kinds of journeys any of us might want, finding along the way Mexican food, beer, prayer, and an understanding of what it’s like to be an oddball, or at least an eccentric, in a ludicrous sea of normalcy.”
Fayhee’s previous books include Up at Altitude: A Celebration of Sife in the High Country, Bottoms Up, and Smoke Signals, the latter of which was a Colorado Book Awards finalist.