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Monday, March 6, 2023

Shaping tales from the natural world


“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

Bass, who was born on this date in 1958, is the son of a geologist and studied petroleum geology at Utah State University. He started writing short stories on his lunch breaks while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, MS, and eventually gravitated toward environmental activism.  Today he and his wife, artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, live in a remote area where he both writes and works on environmental issues.                                         

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.  While he has an equal number of nonfiction and fiction works, he said approaching the latter, especially incorporating tales about real people, is more delicate.

“I think a novelist 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.    A novel that features real people is complicated, but in the end, that extra challenge is all for the good.”

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