Why I Came West Summary
A passionate memoir about the great divides in Rick Bass's beloved Yaak Valley, the West as a whole, and himself.
A poignant look at the thirty-year journey of one of our country's great naturalist writers, Why I Came West explores how Rick Bass fell in love with the mystique of the West: as a dramatic landscape, as an idea, and as a way of life. Bass grew up in the suburban sprawl of Houston, and after attending college in Utah he spent eight years working in Mississippi as a geologist, until one day he packed up and headed west in search of something visceral, true, and real. He found it in the remote Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana, a unique place, neither national park nor government-sanctioned wilderness, where despite extensive logging not a single species has gone extinct since the last Ice Age.
Bass has lived in "the Yaak" ever since and in a series of moving chapters describes his own transformation into the writer, hunter, and environmental activist that he is today. He profiles how the rugged, wild landscape smoothed out his own rough edges; attempts to define the appeal of the West that so transfixed him as a boy, a place of mountains and outlaws and continual rebirth, just beyond whatever was near it; and he describes his role as a reluctant environmental activistsometimes at odds with his own neighborsunable and unwilling to stand idly by and watch this treasured place disappear.