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The Lives of Rocks

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  391 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
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 tw ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 6th 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2006)
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Dec 02, 2013 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Rick Bass, how do you do it.

Just when I thought there could never be more you show me there can never be enough.

Pagans(!!!) and Yazoo knocked my socks off.

Here's the crazy crux of the matter: there are still thousands of readers who haven't experienced this one-of-a-kind author, seriously what are you waiting for?

Feb 10, 2016 Jamie rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this, the title story was not the one that grabbed me. Now, it’s the one I think of the most, the one that keeps drawing me back over and over.

Same for “Her First Elk.” I must be growing older. That is not a bad thing.

- - -

April 2011:
Excluding Fitzgerald, as you do to make it a fair fight, my favorite short story for years has been “The Watch” in Rick Bass’s The Watch . I’ve been curious what would finally pose a threat on that score and now I know. I’ve read “Pagans” and
Feb 03, 2015 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I'm both a short story and Rick Bass fan. This one didn't quite trip the endorphins sensors to the same levels of his other works I've read. There were some great stories in there no doubt ("Pagans", "The Lives of Rocks", and "Goats" were the strongest in my view) but somehow the collection didn't quite feel as strong. I think for me they lacked the same human comparisons I've seen at play before in his writing (as a whole).

A bit more introspective and perhaps more personal to the authors backg
Albert Kendrick
Nov 07, 2015 Albert Kendrick rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I am always looking for a new short story writer to try out. I came across Rick Bass as highly recommended by several GR friends. This was my first collection of his stories. I had several different reactions to them. Certainly one of those reactions was enjoyment. Rick Bass is a talented writer. I was impressed at the variety in the stories. I think my favorite was Her First Elk. I enjoyed reading about Jyl in that story and then reading about her again later in the title story, The Lives of Ro ...more
Jun 25, 2009 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this a 4 because of the story: "The Lives of Rocks". It's more of a novella than a short story(approx. 60 pages).
Sep 20, 2008 George rated it it was amazing
I like short stories in general, but this collection contains two about a woman deer hunter named Jyl, which alone make this book a must-read. They are thoughtful and surprising. (Even for a Southern Californian non-hunter like me). The first involves her downing a huge buck without the faintest idea what to do with it afterward, and being helped by a couple of seasoned hunters who become lifelong friends.

The second is years later when she is recovering from cancer in a remote cabin, and begins
Garlan ✌
I'm a big Rick Bass fan, but this collection wasn't as appealing as some of his others. Bass has always been an environmentalist, and this set of stories heavily reflect his activism. He acknowledges as much in one of the stories; how he has traded his "art" for "activism". There are still some very good stories, some good paragraphs and sentences, but overall, I found the collection lacking a bit. If you're not acquainted with Bass' writing, I'd recommend either The Watch, Platte River, or In t ...more
Jul 12, 2008 Caleb rated it really liked it
Rick Bass is a favorite...These stories are very touching, bizarre, mystical. One in here is a fantasy of environmentalism...Weird almost David Lynch "log-man" episode...Another is an exquisite story of an ill woman who builds delicate boats that she sails down mountain streams to fundamentalist children. Rick Bass - even though I squirm sometimes - can do no wrong in my mind.

Finished this the other day...Title story is worth whole book, IMHO!

(I also think the cover is beautiful...How I generall
Oct 28, 2014 Robert rated it liked it
The Lives of Rocks, a collection of ten stories by Rick Bass, offers one truly exceptional story--the title story--and nine good to not-so-good tales. “The Lives of Rocks” focuses on Jyl, a woman living alone in the mountains and suffering through chemotherapy. Improbably, she begins to pass the time, when she has enough energy, by carving boats and attaching messages to them in little bottles. She then sets them afloat where, downstream, they are received and cherished by two children who come ...more
Travis McGuire
Nov 13, 2014 Travis McGuire rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful collection of stories. Rick Bass really delivers with this book, the prose dances with songs of nature and life and passion, so much so that the characters remain vibrant even weeks later. It's quite rare I rate a book five stars but this one definitely deserves it.
Aug 20, 2008 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lyndsey P
Wow...this is some of the most beautiful and stirring writing I've ever read. The author is so in-tune with nature and the quality of human emotion. I felt so at ease and refreshed after each story...I'm really looking forward to reading more of his work.
"More and more I'm trying not to look back at who I was, or even who I am, but at the land itself. I am trying to let the land tell me who and what I am — trying to let it pace and direct me, until it is as if I have become part of it."
Mar 12, 2014 Cheryl rated it it was ok
I read this book alongside Wendell Berry’s Selected Poems, and they share more than brown, somber, and serious covers. Both older white gentlemen in different parts of the country that love the country, and love the landscape, and know it intimately. I think Bass even quoted Wendell Berry in his stories. I read much of his nonfiction, this was the first fiction I have tried. I appreciated it, I really did, but nothing took my breath away. My favorite nonfiction author, Annie Dillard, also couldn ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit-fiction
The title story is as exquisite as it is heart-crushing, and probably my new favorite from Bass.
Charles Boogaard
Jul 23, 2014 Charles Boogaard rated it really liked it
Such a peace comes over me as I read rick bass. His stories always feature such interesting characters and nature is always well entwined. My favorite story was Pagans which reminds me of my childhood a bit. I remember spots in life where things changed from the creative lovely days of true childhood to other chapters in life. I grew up in a place that provided the same type of adventure and secluded childhood paradise.
I do not believe this to be Bass's best book but, stories like lives of roc
Mar 06, 2010 Grant rated it liked it
After reading this collection, my guess is that Bass is a good essayist, particularly when it comes to topics of the natural world. His best work in this collection is when he is describing that world or the work of men an women living in that world. He writes as only one could who has a real connection with nature and does not find himself separate from it. Bass not only vividly celebrates that kind of landscape, but is adept at evoking the loneliness a person might feel among nature despite c ...more
Greg Pettit
Feb 13, 2009 Greg Pettit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-mary, fiction
A very nice collection of short stories, several set in or near Houston, Texas.

It's a little hard to review a collection of short stories, since they can be very different. However, they do all reflect the writer's style, which I found very enjoyable.

Almost all of the tales in this book dealt with nature, and had a romantic, nostalgic feel. The writing was clear and often used imaginative metaphors or descriptions. Of the ten stories in the collection, my favorites were Pagans, Her First Elk, T
David Ward
Oct 16, 2013 David Ward rated it liked it
The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass (Houghton Miflin Co. 2006) (Fiction - Short Story) is a collection of sad stories that left me exhausted. Bass' short stories all have a haunting and mournful element. I recognize and acknowledge the thoughtfulness and craftsmanship with which these tales are constructed. I just find this collection to be...heavy. The best stories in this volume ("The Canoeists" (young love), "Yazoo" (broken dreams), "The Lives of Rocks" (lost love and mortality)) all tug on the s ...more
Jul 27, 2010 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Aug 31, 2014 Shezad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a great set of short stories. "Pagans" was, by far, the weakest of them.
H R Koelling
Aug 01, 2007 H R Koelling rated it really liked it
A wonderful collection of short stories that displays Rick's deep love and appreciation for nature.

I first read The Book of Yaak, and was happy to see that many of the themes I encountered in that book were also present in The Lives of Rocks.

He doesn't just write specifically about nature, though. But each story seems to weave a little of Rick's need to express his deep connection to the natural world. This book is a work of fiction and almost all of the stories revolve around a nature oriented
Mar 06, 2008 Jt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uneven collection. Only one has really grabbed me - the longer title piece. The first 2 seemed a lot like other stories of his, and kind of tired writing. I almost stopped... but was very glad I read the story "The Lives of Rocks" which reminded me why I like him - he can bring that edge of magic, or wistful mysticism, into everyday life.

I am reminded that I used to have a dreamier life, and used to pay attention to coincidence and hidden meanings and the possibility that there was more to this
Jun 24, 2010 Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title story alone is worth the price of the book, though there are two or three others that are really great. I haven't read much of Bass before (only his first collection The Watch), but in The Lives of Rocks there are moments where he gets pretty heavy handed about his message, mainly that of environmental conservatism. Not that that isn't a worthy cause, but it seems to me most of his stories do a good enough job of conveying his beliefs without his having to come out and tell the reader.
Mar 22, 2016 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprised by this. Sentimental and touching.
Sep 17, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it
I'm so glad I discovered this author. Two things immediately drew me to this book, 1)the title, and 2)the cover. Mine actually has an elk on it. Its been a while since I read a book of short stories, so this was a refreshing and fun change of pace for me. I loved most all of the stories, (10 of them) some more than others. It was a good character driven look at different ways that people are affected by and interact with nature.
Jul 20, 2014 Pamela rated it really liked it
He writes such beautiful prose.
Elias Carlston
Oct 06, 2013 Elias Carlston rated it liked it
There's some of what I like about Bass in here, but the prose can be clumsy. The phrase "like some sort of" was noticeably overused; it shows up in several stories. That's a good example of how I feel this collection tells you about its mysteries, unlike Bass' other stuff, which shows you. Still, bad Bass is better than a lot of other stuff out there.
Jordan Keller
Nov 16, 2015 Jordan Keller rated it liked it
The titular story is among Bass' best works—an absolute stunner, perhaps his crown jewel. Pagans and Goats are the other standouts. The rest have their moments, but overall this collection pales in comparison to Hermit's, Loyal Mountains, or The Watch. A deep-cuts read for devotees to the Church of Bass, but not the most effective baptism.
Jul 02, 2008 jack added it
Shelves: fiction-lit
i've read a bit of rick bass before, but not his fiction. i found that i prefer his fiction that flows more like his nature writing. this is a collection of short stories that cover a wide range of topics. i didnt make it through all of them, but of the ones i read, fiber was my favorite. it sucked me in more than the others.
Feb 11, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
A collection of ten short stories (the longest of which is titled "The Lives of Rocks"). I'd' never read Rick Bass before, never heard of him even, but finally got around to reading this book which I got as a Christmas present two years ago. I shouldn't have waited so long - the stories were good, but the prose was great.
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Rick Bass was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in Houston, the son of a geologist. He studied petroleum geology at Utah State University and while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, Mississippi, began writing short stories on his lunch breaks. In 1987, he moved with his wife, the artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, to Montana’s remote Yaak Valley and became an active environmentalist, wo ...more
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