Melanie's Reviews > The Watch: Stories

The Watch by Rick Bass
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Jul 06, 12

it was amazing
bookshelves: favourites
Read from June 26 to July 06, 2012

‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how deep’.

Rick Bass is like Seamus Heaney’s spade, digging, inching toward the heart of the matter, his pen ‘snug as a gun’. His characters study the depth, vastness and immensity of their longing, with borders and limitations that are difficult to remember in the haze of desire.

The stories are told with gorgeous simplicity and I just loved how the narrative darted around the place, like electrons misfiring in the brain. I could probably count on one hand how many times Rick Bass actually gave it all up to the reader - that secret, delicate wisdom he had me orbiting or ducking. I seemed to always be asking, is this going to hurt?

‘Mexico’, ‘Choteau’, ‘Juggernaut’ and ‘In Ruth’s Country’ were pretty darn perfect as short stories go, but all are so important.

To share a few of my favourite bits:

‘You go out into the desert (said the professor) and in your dig, you try to find a fossil tree, the trunk of a big stout one, the equivalent, I suppose, of our live oaks today - a good jumping tree - and then from that, in your diggings, you radiate, work outward, and you start finding these little half-bird things, as many as you could ever care to collect. Half something, half another thing’.

from Mexico


The dogs had been smelling Buzbee and his camp all night, and were nearly crazed: their chests strained and swelled like barrels of apples, like hearts of anger and they jumped and twisted and tugged against their leashes, pulling Hollingsworth and Jesse behind them in a stumbling run through the wet grasses. Froth came from their muzzles, their rubbery lips. Their eyes were wild. They were too hard to hold. They pulled free of their leashes, and raced, silently, like the fastest thing in the world, accelerating across the field and into the woods, straight for the camp, the straightest thing that ever was.

from The Watch


Rating: 5 of the fullest, galena blue stars there ever was.
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Quotes Melanie Liked

Rick Bass
“Nothing will get you into trouble so deep or as sad as faith.”
Rick Bass, The Watch


Reading Progress

06/27/2012 page 45
23.0% "Faultless, stunning..." 4 comments
07/02/2012 page 93
48.0% "Who is Rick Bass?

Not since Breece D'J Pancake have I been so fascinated with an author. Savouring every word." 8 comments
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Jamie I want to talk about Buzbee, Jesse, and Hollingsworth. Buzbee’s women, the gators in the swamp. And how about that ending?

“Wild Horses” is one, too, that kills me every time. That kind of immensity of longing; Karen says “I’m halfway over him.” Sydney and his breaking horses sometimes reminds me of Wallis and his oil wells.


Melanie Yes! Was it just me or did Jesse really step out of a William Gay book right into The Watch, my favourite passages are where he is going so fast with his heart strong, and earlier that soft hush athletic falling he talks about, perfecting the sport 'because that's all there is, one day, finally' I just love that. Hollingsworth spooked me pretty fierce, the swooning and the need!

I had a dream about Buzbee's swamp, before the women arrived, a certain bad yet loveable cop was there, it was the night of Shane & Lem, heartache took me to the swamp, what a merge eh.

Wild Horses, Karen & Sydney Bean - what was she waiting for? she had a deadly longing - that story was tough. Too beautiful. More of that ancient ocean longing and oil alchemy.

What Bass is next?


Jamie Whoa, that’s a perfect storm, that dream in Buzbee’s swamp. I don’t know if I could recover from that ache in the heart.

I read Gay after Bass, it never occurred to me about Jesse. Now that you mention it! I think I’ve read that story more than any other, there’s just so much to it. It boggles me. Each of the three arcs would be something on their own— Jesse, the cyclist; Buzbee on the run; Hollingsworth’s unscrupulous loneliness and the Cokes on the asphalt— but the three of them all together just takes so many twists and turns. Surprising in the best way and powerful.

Karen and Sydney: I know! And then the end where she’s ready to help him because he still hurts.

There’s no wrong answer to what’s next. Platte River’s three novellas are knockout punches in the manner of Sky, Stars, Wilderness. But if that’s the criteria, In The Loyal Mountains and The Lives of Rocks are the opposite of disqualified.


Melanie Thanks Jamie! Messaging you now re: the strike team


James A great recommendation so many thanks indeed!


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