Synopses & Reviews
Late in 1959, the Brown siblings—Maxine, Bonnie, and Jim Ed—were enjoying unprecedented international success, rivaled only by their longtime friend Elvis Presley. They had a bona fide megahit on their hands, which topped both the country and pop charts and gave rise to the polished sound of the multibillion dollar country music industry we know today. Mesmerized by the Browns haunting harmonies, the Beatles even tried to learn their secret. Their unique harmony, however, was only achievable through shared blood, and the trios perfect pitch was honed by a childhood spent listening for the elusive pulse and tone of an impeccably tempered blade at their parents Arkansas sawmill.
But the Browns celebrity couldnt survive the world changing around them, and the bonds of family began to fray along with the fame. Heartbreakingly, the novel jumps between the Browns promising past and the present, which finds Maxine—once supremely confident and ravenous in her pursuit of applause—ailing and alone. As her world increasingly narrows, her hunger for just one more chance to secure her legacy only grows, as does her need for human connection.
Lyrical and nuanced, Nashville Chrome hits all the right grace notes with its vivid evocation of an era in American music, while at its heart it is a wrenching meditation on the complexities of fame and of one family—forgotten yet utterly unforgettable when reclaimed by Bass—who experienced them firsthand.
In 1959, the Brown siblings were the biggest thing in country music. Their inimitable harmony would give rise to the polished sound of the multibillion dollar country-music industry we know today. But when the bonds of family began to fray, the flame of their celebrity proved as brilliant as it was fleeting. Masterfully jumping between the Browns' once-auspicious past and the heartbreaking present, Nashville Chrome is the richly imagined story of a forgotten family and an unflinching portrait of an era in American music. In his "breath-catching, mythic and profoundly American tale of creation, destruction and renewal" (Kansas City Star), Rick Bass mines quiet truths and draws poignant portraits of lives lived both in and out of the limelight.
The Wild Marsh
is Rick Basss most mature, full account of life in the Yaak and a crowning achievement in his celebrated career. It begins with his family settling in for the long Montana winter, and captures all the subtle harbingers of change that mark each passing month the initial cruel teasing of spring, the splendor and fecundity of summer, and the bittersweet memories evoked by fall.
It is full of rich observation about what it takes to live in the valley ruggedness, improvisation and, of course, duct tape. The Wild Marsh is also tremendously poignant, especially when Bass reflects on what it means for his young daughters to grow up surrounded by the strangeness and wonder of nature. He shares with them the Yaaks little secrets where the huckleberries are best in a dry year, where to find a grizzlys claw marks in an old cedar and discovers that passing on this intimate local knowledge, the knowledge of home, is a kind of rare and valuable love.
Bass emerges not just as a writer but as a father, a neighbor, and a gifted observer, uniquely able to bring us close to the drama and sanctity of small things, ensuring that though the wilderness is increasingly at risk, the voice of the wilderness will not disappear.
In this searching memoir, Rick Bass describes how he first fell in love with theWest as a landscape, an idea, and a way of life. Bass grew up in the suburban sprawl of Houston, attended college in Utah, and spent eight years working as a geologist in Mississippi before packing up and heading west in pursuit of something visceral and true. He found it in the remote Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana, where despite extensive logging, not a single species has gone extinct since the last Ice Age. Bass has lived in the Yaak ever since, a place of mountains, outlaws, and continual rebirth that transformed him into the writer, hunter, and activist that he is today. The West Bass found is also home to deep-rooted philosophical conflicts that set neighbor against neighbor disputes that Bass has joined reluctantly, but necessarily, to defend and preserve the wilderness that he loves.
Rick Bass's new collection contains a broad range of characters and settings: the title story concerns a woman recovering from cancer; "Pagans" tells, at forty years' distance, of a girl and two boys -- one of whom was in love with her -- and the dangerous games they played; in "Her First Elk," a woman reflects on her first elk hunt and on her memories of her father and two brothers, now all dead. These stories, distinguished by their maturity, are narrated by men and women with compelling life tales. Filled with Bass's hallmark lean and beautiful prose, they are further proof of his mastery of the short fiction form.
The Hermits Story is Rick Bass's best and most varied fiction yet. In the title story, a man and a woman travel across an eerily frozen lakeunder the ice. The Distance” casts a skeptical eye on Thomas Jefferson through the lens of a Montana mans visit to Monticello. Eating” begins with an owl being sucked into a canoe and ends with a man eating a town out of house and home, and The Cave” is a stunning story of a man and woman lost in an abandoned mine. Other stories include The Fireman,” Swans,” The Prisoners,” Presidents Day,” Real Town,” and Two Deer.” Some of these stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, but for many readers, they wont even be the best in this collection. Every story in this book is remarkable in its own way, sure to please both new readers and avid fans of Rick Basss passionate, unmistakable voice.
The first full-length novel by one of our finest fiction writers, Where the Sea Used to Be tells the story of a struggle between a father and his daughter for the souls of two men, Matthew and Wallis-his protégés, her lovers. Old Dudley is a Texan whose religion is oil, and in his fifty years of searching for it in Swan Valley he has destroyed a dozen geologists. Matthew is Dudley's most recent victim, but Wallis begins to uncover the dark mystery of Dudley's life. Each character, the wildlife, and the land itself are rendered with the vivid poetry that is that hallmark of Rick Bass's writing.
The Diezmo tells the incredible story of the Mier Expedition, one of the most absurd and tragic military adventures in the history of Texas -- a country and a state, as Rick Bass writes, that was "born in blood." In the early days of the Republic of Texas, two young men, wild for glory, impulsively volunteer for an expedition Sam Houston has ordered to patrol the Mexican border. But their dreams of triumph soon fade into prayers for survival, and all that is on their minds is getting home and having a cool drink of water. After being captured in a raid on the Mexican village of Mier, escaping, and being recaptured, the men of the expedition are punished with the terrible diezmo, in which one man in ten is randomly chosen to die. The survivors end up in the most dreaded prison in Mexico. There they become pawns in an international chess game to decide the fate of Texas, and with their hopes of release all but extinguished, they make one desperate, last-ditch effort to escape.
A great crossover book with appeal for high school students. It will also interest readers of westerns and historical fiction.
In this poignant look at the thirty-year journey of one of our countrys great naturalist writers, Rick Bass describes how he fell in love with the mystique of the West--as a dramatic landscape, as an idea, and as a way of life. Bass grew up in the suburban sprawl of Houston, and after attending college in Utah he spent eight years working in Mississippi as a geologist, until one day he packed up and went in search of something visceral, true, and real. He found it in the remote Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana, where despite extensive logging not a single species has gone extinct since the last Ice Age.
Bass has lived in the Yaak” ever since, and in Why I Came West he chronicles his transformation into the writer, hunter, and environmental activist that he is today. He explains how the rugged, wild landscape smoothed out his own rough edges; attempts to define the appeal of the West that so transfixed him as a boy, a place of mountains and outlaws and continual rebirth; and tells of his own role as a reluctant activistsometimes at odds with his own neighborsunwilling to stand idly by and watch this treasured place disappear.
Rick Bass is the author of many acclaimed books of nonfiction and fiction, including The Lives of Rocks, The Diezmo, and Winter.
A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice A Rocky Mountain News Best Book of the Year Finalist for the Story Prize
At once expertly crafted and undeniably moving, these ten stories deftly explore our immutable connection with nature. The centerpiece of the collection is the arresting title story, in which a woman alone in her mountain cabin confronts a terminal illness. In the equally remarkable Her First Elk,” the same character recalls her most memorable and significant hunting experience. Set in locations ranging from Montana to Texas to Mississippi, the remaining stories further illuminate the consequences of our attitudes toward the environment and each other. This masterly collection lays bare the essentials of life with unparalleled passion and grace..
This book is a classic celebration of winter in a remote Montana valley.
A gut-wrenching adventure, The Diezmo tells the story of one of the most absurd and tragic military adventures in American history. In the early days of the Republic of Texas, two young men, barely sixteen years old and wild for glory, impulsively volunteer for a military expedition assigned to patrol the Mexican border. After being captured in a raid on the Mexican village of Mier, the men of the expedition are sentenced to the grisly diezmo, in which a random selection by bean lottery condemns one man in ten to death. The imprisoned survivors make a desperate last-ditch bid for freedom -- with tragic results.
Colter was the runt of the litter, and Rick Bass took him only because nobody else would. Soon, though, Bass realized he had a raging genius on his hands, and he raided his daughters' college fund to send Colter to the best schools. Colter could be a champion, Rick was told, but he'd have to be broken, slowed down. Rick "could no more imagine a slowing-down Colter than a slow-motion bolt of lightning in the sky," and instead of breaking Colter he followed him. Colter led him into new territory, an unexplored land where he felt more alive, more intimately connected to the world, than he'd ever been before. In the course of telling us Colter's story, Rick Bass also tells us of his childhood fascination with snapping turtles and dirt, and of the other animals - including people - that have shaped his life. COLTER is an interspecies love story that vividly captures the relationship between humans and dogs. Like all of Bass's work, it is passionate, poetic, and original.
Rick Bass's third novel dramatizes three real-life 1950s era country singers from Arkansas who produced a unique and eerie tempered harmony--the Nashville Sound--that for a brief period made them the biggest thing in country music.
"Bass creates a slice of music history
from the ground up, from the backwoods and front porches all the way to Elvis." —Los Angeles Times
1959: the Brown siblings are the biggest thing in country music. Their inimitable harmony will give rise to the polished sound of the multibillion-dollar country music industry we know today. But when the bonds of family begin to fray, the flame of their celebrity proves as brilliant as it is fleeting. In this arresting novel, acclaimed author Rick Bass draws poignant portraits of their lives, lived both in and out of the limelight. Masterfully jumping between the Browns once auspicious past and the heartbreaking present, Nashville Chrome
is the richly imagined story of this forgotten family and an unflinching portrait of an era in American music. "An empathic, breath-catching, mythic
and profoundly American tale of creation, destruction and renewal." —Kansas City Star
"Splendid . . . Rick Basss best." —Dallas Morning News
About the Author
RICK BASSs 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.
Table of Contents
Contents The Hermits Story · 1 Swans · 19 The Prisoners · 41 The Fireman · 51 The Cave · 74 Presidents Day · 90 Real Town · 122 Eating · 135 The Distance · 141 Two Deer · 161