BookBrowse Reviews The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Lives of Rocks

Stories

by Rick Bass

The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Nov 2006, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2007, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Compassionate and hard-hitting, knowledgeable and transcendent. Short Stories

Rick Bass was brought up in Houston, Texas and, for about a decade after leaving college, worked as a gas and oil geologist in Jackson, Mississippi (where he started writing short stories in his lunch breaks) before moving to the Yaak Valley in the northern Rockies, near the Idaho-Montana-Canada border in 1987 with his wife, Elizabeth Hughes, who has illustrated some of his more than 20 books.  All three locations play a part in this collection of ten short stories which share two predominant themes - humanity's gluttony for nature, and teenagers finding their way into adulthood. 

In the opening story, "Pagans", three teenagers play dangerous games in a polluted river near Houston; in "Goats", two young boys intent on being farmers in the suburbs of Houston, try their hand at cattle-rearing in a story that could almost verge on slapstick if it wasn't so poignantly sad; and in "Titans" a boy recollects a vacation spent on the Alabama coast (see sidebar).  Bass can find beauty anywhere, even in the shipping lanes of Houston, but the most powerful stories are set where his heart obviously is, in the Yaak Valley (see sidebar).  We see the region through the eyes of young and old - from the inexperienced young woman out hunting "Her First Elk" in an effort to reconnect with her dead father, to the kindly, hardened old men who help her; to the children of a fundamentalist family who meet the same woman many years later as she struggles to maintain her deep-woods lifestyle in the face of chronic illness.

Three stories stand out in particular:  "The Canoeists", a 4-page story in which a couple canoe lazily down a river in a day that seems to last forever before returning to their home in the big city, having taken their fill of nature, without taking anything away with them but their memories.  The title story, "The Lives of Rocks", in which a geologist, living in the forest and weakened by cancer treatments, comes to rely on the help and company of two children from a rigidly fundamentalist family who are happy to help until she teaches them that the earth is millions of years old; and "Fiber" in which a logger muses on his job in the Yaak Valley before turning on the reader with a direct plea to help protect the area - in a few swift words changing the reader from casual observer to participant.

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.

This review was originally published in January 2007, and has been updated for the October 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Islamic Enlightenment
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Leavers
    The Leavers
    by Lisa Ko
    The day before Deming Guo saw his mother for the last time, she surprised him at school. A navy blue...
  • Book Jacket: Wonderful Feels Like This
    Wonderful Feels Like This
    by Sara Lovestam
    High school is hard; or perhaps, more accurately, growing up and finding oneself is hard. This is ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Scribe of Siena
    by Melodie Winawer

    Equal parts transporting love story, meticulously researched historical fiction, and compelling time-travel narrative.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Chalk Pit

The Chalk Pit:
A Ruth Galloway Mystery

A string of murders takes Ruth underground in the newest book in the series.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T W Don't M A R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -