A New York Times Editor’s Choice
The definitive collection of stories—new and old—from Rick Bass, “an American classic” (Newsweek).
For the past three decades Rick Bass, long considered one of the most gifted practitioners of the short story, has been unsurpassed in his ability to perceive and portray the enduring truths of the human heart. To read his fiction is to feel more alive—connected, incandescently, to “the brief longshot of having been chosen for the human experience,” as one of his characters puts it.
These pages reveal men and women living with passion and tenderness at the outer limits of the senses, each attempting to triumph against fate. In the timeless and much-loved “The Hermit’s Story,” a couple escapes a sudden blizzard by traversing a frozen lake-beneath the ice-while oft-anthologized treasures like “The Watch” and “The Fireman” provide searing insights into the complexity of family and romantic entanglements, whether it’s a cantankerous father and son in the jungle of a Mississippi bayou, or a troubled marriage haunted and cleansed by house fires.
In “How She Remembers It,” Bass’s latest Pushcart Prize winner, a twelve-year-old girl takes her first trip to Yellowstone with her beloved father, who, unbeknownst to her, is losing his memory. In other new stories we meet an ancient, once-vital matriarch refusing all attempts to lease her oil-rich land; a teenage boy rescuing a truck from the river in which his father drowned; an alcoholic logger seeking absolution and renewal amid the ancient ruins of South America; and a father protecting his daughters from a mountain lion on a trip to harvest a Christmas tree gone awry. Bass’s lush and striking language pulls us ineluctably into the lives of these engaging characters and their surroundings.
These intricate stories—brimming with magic and wonder, filled with hard-won empathy, marbled throughout with astonishing imagery—have the power both to devastate and to uplift. For a Little While showcases an iconic American master at his peak, and is a breathtaking work of literature every fiction reader must own.
“For a Little While is nothing short of remarkable. In the powerful lyricism of his exquisitely wrought prose, Rick Bass conveys not only the ordinary thoughts and impulses of his characters but also those moments of pure sensation—convincing in every physical, mental, and emotional detail—when the intensity of life exists at a pitch almost beyond language. Even amid the threat of annihilation, Bass finds the promise of redemption. Grace has always been the great, elusive subject of his short fiction, and the extraordinary, transcendent stories collected here pursue it in myriad and seamless ways.”
Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times bestselling author
“Mr. Bass finds himself in a deep, vital groove…Stories like ‘Wild Horses,’ ‘In Ruth’s Country,’ ‘Pagans’ and ‘Elk’ more than hold up. They display clarity and heart and moral vision, and glow like a well-stoked wood stove.”
New York Times
“A rich collection of stories by a major American writer.”
Annie Proulx, award-winning author Brokeback Mountain
"[A] sustained achievement…Bass has used the short story form to pursue a searing vision of life…His people are almost always extraordinarily deep feelers, often wracked with pain (usually from some profound loss, recent or impending) and struggling to recover. At the same time, their eyes are wide open to the natural beauty around them, from their big skies to the sprawling landscape beneath.”
“This is nature writing that goes beyond pretty description; how the characters respond emotionally to the landscape is what makes the prose transcendent…his greatest gift, what makes Rick Bass one of the very best writers we have, is his understanding of the soft hearts within even the hardest people.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Bass envisions life on a vast time scale, perceives the preciousness of the planet, and contemplates our ravenous exploitation of nature in our quest for light and warmth, security and sustenance. Reverence and compassion shape each masterfully formed tale in which Bass handles language itself as a gift as essential as water or blood….In his new stories, he attains a fresh intensity of emotional nuance as he portrays individuals weighing desire and duty, regret and gratitude. Bass writes tenderly of fathers and their breath-catching, if inept, love for their daughters; strong women and the men who cautiously orbit them; and those who long for spiritual richness in a world that values material wealth. A collection of enrapturing radiance and depth, a beacon and a hearth.”
Booklist (starred review)
“A benchmark collection of stories by one of the most capable practitioners of the form at work today…Long associated with both the Deep South and the mountainous West, Bass writes movingly of the land, weather, and place as well—even when the place isn’t always attractive, such as the dark edges of little Western towns…Essential reading for students of the modern American short story and some of the best work of a writer who is at the top of his game.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Rick Bass is an American author of numerous award-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. His memoir Why I Came West was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His short fiction, which has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Esquire, and the Paris Review, as well as numerous times in Best American Short Stories, has earned him multiple O. Henry Awards and Pushcart Prizes as well as NEA and Guggenheim fellowships. He was born and raised in Texas, worked as a petroleum geologist in Mississippi, and has lived in Montana’s Yaak Valley for almost three decades.
- Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
- Genre: Fiction
- ISBN-13: 9781478986034