Why I Came West: A Memoir Paperback – Jul 8 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In the summer of 1987, nature writer Bass stumbled into the Yaak Valley in northwestern Montana and fell in love. A native of Houston, Bass worked as a geologist in Mississippi before heading west to find his home and his vocation as a writer. Over the years, Bass became increasingly drawn into the struggle to preserve the valley from logging and development, especially those areas that have yet to be marked by roads. This, his newest title, is a memoir in name only. Eight of the 13 chapters have appeared elsewhere in various forms, and each chapter stands more or less as a discrete essay. Actual biographical material is scant and often repeated, and his main points recur (the need to protect wilderness; the twofold nature of his beloved valley, its biological diversity and human venality and short-sightedness, for example). The book reads best as a series of variations on the theme of how our relation to the wilderness is essential to our being human. Bass is an eloquent defender of his precious valley. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
"Rick Bass is one of the country s greatest and most reluctant activists." Los Angeles Times
In this searching memoir, Rick Bass describes how he first fell in love with the West 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.
"This illuminating story of place and howit can transform a person is from one of the West s most prolific and talented writers"--Seattle Post Intelligencer
"A must-read for any environmental activist" The Oregonian
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Rick Bass is the author of many acclaimed books of nonfiction and fiction, including The Lives of Rocks, The Diezmo, and Winter." See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As a reader, I want a fair chance to choose what I am reading. I couldn't help feel throughout most of this read, that I was erroneously lured into the prospect of some new and different writing by Mr. Bass - but instead was being given the same whine in a different bottle.
Having said that, I will still look forward to his new efforts both in regard to conservation as well as writing.
... and I mistakenly put 4 stars on this review and couldn't figure out how to edit that. Two and a half would have been generous. TA
The next chapters were the most interesting. Bass muses on "meat," "wood," "oil," and other things that he (and we) consume. He is brutally honest and self-critical in connecting his own consumption with the wider world's desire to extract resources from the Yaak. He also recognizes the human role in the food chain and other "natural" processes, as well as the right of humans, no less than other predators, to eat.
Finally, he reflects on his personal need to fight to preserve some part of the Yaak as wilderness, and he discusses the personal costs of his activism. The Yaak has a small human community, and apparently most of its members hate Bass for his activism. This was perhaps the most compelling part of the book.
While Bass reflects on his own compulsions and sins, every reader will reflect on her own. Read it if you can take it.
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