Books by Mississippi Writers 1996-2010
By Rick Bass (Houghton-Mifflin hardcover, $23.00, ISBN: 0618596747, 11/2006; Mariner Books paperback, $13.95, ISBN: 061891966X, 10/2007) Bass draws on his geological expertise to ground his latest collection of stop-in-your-tracks short stories on a bedrock of realism only to have his wild-hearted characters race off to realms surreal and mythic. In “Pagans,” three teens use an abandoned construction crane on a polluted river to create art out of junk and test their courage. In “Goats,” two friends want to be ranchers, but their calves routinely escape. Bass meshes wit with an elegiac sensibility to capture the dark ambience of a world besieged by rampant desecration and destruction. His jittery and desperate characters struggle with desire, sorrow, and fear; intending to help each other, they are, instead, helpless. Bedeviled men and women are inextricably connected to the land, from the “treacherous shifting Yazoo clay of Mississippi” to the snowy mountains of Montana, the setting for two unforgettable linked tales about a resolute and resourceful woman, modes of survival, and the majestic cycles of existence. Embedded in each paradoxical story is Bass’ perception of everything from a rock to an elk, an egret, a woman, and a tree as a precious “carrier of life” on a planet graced with a “topography of spirit.” Compassionate and hard-hitting, knowledgeable and transcendent, Bass is essential. —Donna Seaman. Booklist. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.