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Sunday, March 6, 2022

'Landscape Shapes Our Cultures'


  In the Black Hills (Photo by Susan Jorgensen)

“The natural world is the only one we have. To try to not see the natural world - to put on blinders and avoid seeing it - would for me seem like a form of madness. I'm also interested in the way landscape shapes individuals and populations, and from that, cultures.” - Rick Bass

Born in Texas on this date in 1958, Bass is the son of a geologist who studied petroleum geology at Utah State University before starting to write short stories on his lunch breaks while working in that industry.  Today he and his wife, artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, live in a remote area where he writes and works on environmental issues and is a well-known lecturer and teacher often seen on television specials.                                          

Among his more than two dozen books are the award-winning Where the Sea Used to Be; his short story collection The Lives of Rocks; and his autobiographical Why I Came West.  He was also awarded the General Electric Younger Writers Award, a PEN/Nelson Algren Award Special Citation for fiction, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.  While he has an equal number of nonfiction and fiction works, he said approaching non-fiction is a more delicate proposition.

“I think a (non-fiction writer) must be more tender with living or 'real' people,” he said.   “The moral imperative of having been entrusted with their story looms before you every day, in every sentence."

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