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Jim Duke | Author

"I've always wanted to be a cowboy, but felt that I was born in the wrong place and time..."

'Dances with Donkeys' book cover

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Dances with Donkeys #

So begins the adventures and misadventures of author Jim Duke in his debut book DANCING WITH DONKEYS: The Memoir Of A Half-Assed Cowboy. It’s an often hilarious, occasionally poignant, sometimes hair-raising, and always entertaining story of a man, who like legions of little boys before and after him dreamed of being a cowboy, but actually dropped out of high school and took off for Texas to become one.

As he describes his lifelong love affair with equines, as well as a few other ass-inine escapades, Duke’s writing is one part cowboy poet laureate Baxter Black, one part gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who was his neighbor in Woody Creek, Colorado though they didn’t think too highly of each other. And all Jim Duke, “the mule guy” as he was known in the Roaring Fork Valley down river from the glitzy town of Aspen.

Share the rush of careening through a dense lodgepole forest on an unruly, half-broke mule at break neck speeds! And the thrill of sailing over a twelve-foot cattleguard on a runaway jackass! Imagine evading angry police on a wild donkey in downtown Fort Collins during a spring college festival. Experience most every hair-raising, often humorous, mishap possible with equines through a life that made an asset of poor judgement.

Follow a journey guided largely by the age-old union of humans and equines and feel the depth of the relationships that can form with such intelligent beings over a several decade life-span. For Duke, there are simply no other relationships like the ones between equines and humans, no other animals as strong and fast and intelligent, and as willing to cooperate—despite their obstinate reputations—with humans as horses and asses. “The complexity and variety of personalities among equines, and especially asses (donkeys and mules), are beyond the imagination of most folks and provide the best of company, often playful, always curious, never boring,” says the author.

From his days of riding pigs in high school, follow this high school drop-out through his cowboy years, college years, and career years all intertwined with and guided by his equine friends. Having lived only in places where he can see his mules from the house and where he can piss off the porch since his early twenties, the author has basically shaped his life around his animals’ needs which seem to dovetail well with his own needs. For Duke, a mule’s abilities as a beast of burden are merely minor aspects of the true value of this noble companion.

These tales are not always about equines but generally involve interactions with some sort of critters leading a willing thrill seeker astray. After all, how does one wind up hauling dozens of chickens and pounds of psilocybin mushrooms across Texas in a small sedan? Why were there shit covered, rotting cowhides on a downtown Fort Collins business rooftop? Who smuggles skunks on airlines? Read DANCING WITH DONKEYS and find out.

Man kissing donkey