An American Library Association Notable Book
John Henry Holliday was an Ivy League-educated dentist from a genteel Georgia family when at the age of twenty-one he was diagnosed with consumption and given six months to live. Instead, over the next fifteen years, he composed of his sojourn on America's western frontier a paean to the ways in which a man might bluff death—and attain a measure of immortality.
In Bucking the Tiger, Bruce Olds uses a pan-dimensional, genre-blurring collage of original poems, reconstituted news accounts, adulterated epigraphs, song lyrics and photographs, simulated eyewitness testimony, fictionalized memoir, invented correspondence, re-imagined folk history—less to restore the past of a figure who in his lifetime was more thoroughly mythologized than Jesse James or Billy the Kid, than to re-story it entirely.
Evoking Doc Holliday's checkered careers as a frontier dentist, itinerant saloon gambler, professional faro dealer, and occasional shootist (including his involvement in the fabled gunfight at the OK Corral), Bucking the Tiger displaces the popular image of the Latin-spouting serial killer with the reality of a human being who, exiled to an emotional and physical landscape to which he was singularly unsuited, strove to make of his self-affliction an expression of sustained, if often violent, art.