Summary and book reviews of The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass

The Lives of Rocks

Stories

By Rick Bass

The Lives of Rocks
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2006,
    224 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2007,
    224 pages.

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Book Summary

Rick Bass's new collection contains a broad range of characters and settings: the title story concerns a woman recovering from cancer; "Pagans" tells, at forty years' distance, of a girl and two boys -- one of whom was in love with her -- and the dangerous games they played; in "Her First Elk," a woman reflects on her first elk hunt and on her memories of her father and two brothers, now all dead. These stories, distinguished by their maturity, are narrated by men and women with compelling life tales. Filled with Bass's hallmark lean and beautiful prose, they are further proof of his mastery of the short fiction form.

Her First Elk

She had killed an elk once. She had been a young woman, just out of college — her beloved father already three years in the grave — and had set out early on opening morning, hiking uphill through a forest of huge ponderosa pines, with the stars shining like sparks through their boughs, and owls calling all around her, and her breath rising strong in puffs and clouds as she climbed, and a shimmering at the edge of her vision like the electricity in the night sky that sometimes precedes the arrival of the northern lights, or heat lightning.

The hunt was over astonishingly quickly; years later, she would realize that the best hunts stretch out four or five weeks, and sometimes never result in a taking. But this one had ended in the first hour, on the first day.

Even before daylight, she had caught the scent of the herd bedded down just ahead of her, a scent sweeter and ranker than that of any number of stabled horses; and ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Without exception, these are graceful, thoughtful, compassionate and powerful stories, many of which have the staying power to be recalled for many years to come   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (838 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. These graceful stories are connected through Bass's invocation of elemental forces, but at the same time each is deliciously distinct.

Booklist - Donna Seaman

Starred Review. Compassionate and hard-hitting, knowledgeable and transcendent, Bass is essential.

Library Journal

Known for his honest portrayal of nature and equally adept in depicting urban settings, the award-winning Bass ...continues to impress with lyrical prose and philosophical thoughts. Strongly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews

It reads like a spiritual parable and proceeds to a resolution so bleak it could break the reader's heart. Bass makes his impassioned points through fiction that rarely resorts to polemics.

The Seattle Times - David Flood

All told, Rick Bass effectively metamorphoses character, theme and setting into pleasing new wholes — highly polished gems to be turned over in the mind, again and again.

The New York Times - Jeff Turrentine

... this collection is a reminder that in addition to being a tireless voice for wildlife and forests, he's also one of this country's most sensitive and intelligent short-story writers, adept at capturing people during those moments when they first realize they are indeed component parts of complex organic systems: parts of nature.

Reader Reviews
Linda Hedrick

The Lives of Rocks
I loved it and was left wondering afterward. Wondering is not always such a bad thing. I wanted to know more at the end and intend to reread it after my son, who leans toward tragic novels, reads it and we can discuss his thoughts. I think I may ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Did you know?

In "Titan" a man recalls a boyhood vacation spent on the coast of Alabama in which he experiences a "Jubilee". Jubilee is a natural phenomena that occurs in Mobile Bay from time to time, usually before dawn on a warm summer night, when large numbers of fish, crabs and shrimps swarm close to shore, making themselves easily available to locals who come out with all sorts of containers and scoop them up in quantity. 

Jubilee appears to be caused by the natural stratification of the Bay waters, ...

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