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All the Land to Hold Usby Rick Bass
Synopses & Reviews
A strange and powerful landscape summons strange and powerful happenings.
Rick Bass brings a lyrical lushness to the harsh backdrop of West Texas in his masterfully crafted fourth novel. All the Land to Hold Us is a sweeping tale of those who live on the desert’s edge, where riches — precious artifacts, oil, water, love — can all be found and lost again in an instant.
Roaming across the salt flats and skirting the salt lake, Richard, a geologist working for an oil company, hunts for fossils under the spell of Clarissa, the local beauty who plans to use her share of their plunder to get out of small, dusty Midland for good. A generation earlier, a Depression-era couple, Max and Marie Omo, numbly mines for salt along the banks of the briny lake until the emotional terrain of their marriage is suddenly and irrevocably altered. The strange, surreal arrival of a runaway circus elephant, careening across the sand, sets in motion Marie’s final break from Max and heralds the beginning of her second chance. Consequences reverberate through the years and the dunes when Marie becomes indelibly linked to Richard’s own second act.
With a cast of characters rounded out by a one-legged-treasure-hunter, a renegade teacher, and an unforgettable elephant trainer, All the Land to Hold Us is a vivid portrait of a fierce place and the inimitable characters that possess the capacity to adapt to and also despoil it. The novel boasts all the hallmarks of Bass’s most enduring work — human longing and greed, nature endangered, and the possibility for redemption are all writ large on his desert canvas.
From one of our most gifted writers, a novel of seekers that spans three generations set amid the harsh terrain of West Texas. Rick Bass proves once again that strange and powerful landscapes summon strange and powerful happenings in his masterfully crafted fourth novel. Adding lushness to a harsh desert backdrop, All the Land to Hold Us interweaves multiple narratives of the residents of Midland: oil and gas wildcatters, salt miners, high school football players (this is Texas, after all), a lonely widower, a spinster Mormon school teacher amid Baptists, a one-legged treasure-hunter, and a local beauty dreaming of bigger things. They are connected not only by place, but also by human longing.
Bass's unmistakable voice is showcased and the hallmarks of his work — environment, endangered innocence, human greed, regret, and redemption — are all writ large on this canvas. The strands of All the Land to Hold Us bind together place and the persons who adapt to, and ultimately, despoil it.
About the Author
Rick Bass's fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Most recently, his memoir Why I Came West was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.
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