Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Watch” as Want to Read:
The Watch
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Watch

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  789 ratings  ·  58 reviews
In this extraordinary fiction debut, Rick Bass establishes himself in the first rank of American writers. Rooted in the creative traditions of the South, his stories introduce us to men who belong— in spirit if not always in fact— to the American outback, to the deserts of Utah, the swamps of Mississippi, the remote ranges of the Rockies. Strong and inventive, funny and ly ...more
Published June 1999 by Peter Smith Publisher (first published January 1st 1989)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Watch, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Watch

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  789 ratings  ·  58 reviews

More filters
Sort order
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
‘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
Sometimes I think there’s only one kind of guy I could trip and fall flat on my face for, and he has this book asleep by his bed, folded in his back pocket, faded and dog-eared in the passenger seat.

Reserving the last star solely because I want to read so much more of what Bass writes.

First reviewed March 2010

- - -

May 2012:

There are a lot of books I love, but honestly, this might be my favorite of favorites. There’s nothing like the smile on my face when I flip page 47 from “Choteau” to “The Wat
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Without question, this is my favorite group of short stories thus far. Bass' ability to suck you in these somewhat far fetched, crazed tales that somehow you know have some root of truth to his own life experiences is second to none. Unlike similarly crafted tales (Barry Hannah's Airships comes to mind) the word usage and perspectives are simplistic enough that there's no need to strain for meaning and fluid doesn't hurt your brain to figure it all out. Yet, he can put statements ...more
Kirk Smith
A wonderful book of short stories celebrating life. I have handed out far too many fives lately, but my recent reading list has warranted it. I have to compare this to so many other story collections that are jaded and cynical, yet outstanding in their way. This book never avoids or abandons the harshness of reality, but skips around it and focuses on the better elements, the love, the small joys, the stolen freedoms. The Watch helps us realize that despite life's pitfalls there is still great ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I'm pretty rusty on writing lengthy reviews. This book was so damn good that my review will never do justice. There are few books that come along that I want to savor rather than plow through, but I took my time with this one. I read only a few short stories at a time, so that they wouldn't blur together but would still impress me with the way they intertwined and kept bringing me to a familiar feeling. I sort of spent the whole time with my heart breaking. I kept wanting the men in my life to b ...more
Ryan Werner
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
n the debut short story collection from Rick Bass, nature and life are inseparable as they show the lengths to which people will go to not lose themselves.

Set mostly in open woodland areas both literal and figurative, The Watch (W.W. Norton & Co., ISBN: 039331135X, 1989) finds Rick Bass creating landscapes, characters, and situations that are naturally flawed and dealing with it. These ten stories are certainly about the male perception of the outdoors, but they also deal with an overarching
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rick Bass has hooked another, I loved it. It is modern in its jumpy imperfect thought lines and use of ordinary broken words, like real life, unafraid to be orginal. Perhaps it is because I was 29 when it was published and the stories of recklessness, kookiness and the particular American pathos of the people about my age at the time resonated. On the surface the narrator is a passive observer of the exploits of his friends, but its true male personality is fully revealed in his views, concerns ...more
Michael Whitaker
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Full disclosure: I am new to short story collections. I've read a ton of short stories and I've written a few, but I have never sat down to read an entire collection of stories by one author, one story after the other. So this is new for me.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed "The Watch" by Rick Bass. His prose is electric in that sometimes it runs smoothly and beautifully and in the same page will skip synapses with great energy. I think, through the first few stories, I had a hard time catching up.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
The depth and array of emotions and feeling to Bass's stories is fantastic - and while I'm not generally a fan of short stories, this is really excellent. I'm a fan.
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Raymond Carver, George Saunders, and cowboys
Shelves: short-story
These stories are beautiful and disturbing, and despite this being Bass' first published collection, the writing is surprisingly poignant. His succinct use of common speech is refreshing, revealing the stories in a more natural way--one steeped in oral tradition. Even his more experimental forms ("Cats and Students, Bubbles and Abysses" for example) seem like they are driven by voice. In a way, Bass achieves a sort of mastery of dialogue where speakers and their particular dialects are translate ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a set of short stories that people seem to love without any reservation. The stories are beautifully written, almost fairy tale like in their oddness in particular the second story. All of them focus on people with an intensity in them that seems as odd as their relationship with nature.

As I started reading the book I struggled to yield to the book jaded city dweller that I am, well if you can call Zurich a city, in my family nature is referred to as greenery. There seemed to be a stron
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five mother-fucking stars Rick Bass can write circles around most in Raymond Carver's league!
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that started my infatuation with Bass's work. Lyrical, highly imaginative, totally absorbing.
Apr 17, 2017 added it
Shelves: fiction
It’s fun to go back to books you loved a long time ago and see how they hold up. It’s been years since I fell in love with Rick Bass’ first story collection, The Watch. The book captures mostly male characters living in the Deep South, Texas, and Rocky Mountain West (all places Bass knew intimately) in states of transition, whether these men want to transition or not, and their tales are told with humor, unbridled imagination, and quiet insight. Bass has a gift for making outlandish situations s ...more
Charles Boogaard
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
A book simply about people that change does not happen for them. Some do not want change others are forced not to have it. Yet some do not know anything different so continue on with the life they alway known no matter the consequences. We all know people that do not let life change them. I remember people from college who continued that life style way to long a disappeared from my radar.

From the book "most of us get to the bubble finally, just ignore it, and quit bouncing against it, cease to h
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exquisitely simple exploration of relationships focusing more upon people in gritty proximity to each other than upon their relationships to their landscape, which becomes Bass' predominant theme in later works. All of the stories seem effortlessly told but this collection contains what is now my favorite of all his stories I've read thus far, the title story "The Watch." If you've also read his later book, "The Sky, the Stars, and the Wilderness," you may find yourself seeing in its first st ...more
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stories were pretty good. Some were profoundly beautiful. His style and subject matter are deeply American; I'm not one for patriotism, but it's a very beautiful thing, his America. Full of feeling, full of life, yet somehow startlingly desolate.

"Negative space" is something visual and audio artists use to their advantage quite frequently; his writing style, I feel, is the literary complement to that. The way he chooses the details to include and the details to leave's done
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rick Bass is everything that lesser writers of short fiction wish they could be. Wildly imaginative and with phenomenal command of the language to bring it to life, Rick Bass is almost intoxicating to read. There is great beauty in these stories.
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Some amazing stories in here, not a bad one at all in the collection. "Mississippi", "Choteau", "Cats and Students, Bubbles and Abysses" and "The Government Bears" are my favorites. The more serious-toned ones are good, too, and serve well to balance out the exuberance.
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Why does every book I pick up these days bore me to tears?
Moatad Alshammari
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Guy can write. Just wish he would write his female characters as actual three-dimensional beings.
Jeffrey Anthony
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the real deal.

Rick Bass is now in my top 3 authors list.

Remarkable writing!
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite short story collections. Beautiful, brilliant.
Sam A.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rick Bass' stories never fail to entertain. One of my new favorite authors.
Peter Gooch
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
His first book of stories. Not perfect, but has numerous moments of magical writing. This book will stay with you for a long time.
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rick Bass' characters are ambitious, big-hearted, and have a unique lust for life. This is buried gem of a short story collection.
B. Mason
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Based on reviews of "The Watch" I was expecting more out of Rick Bass. There are some real deft stories in here, "Wild Horses" for instance, but overall I felt that, despite the variety of voices and narrators, that the places in which Bass sets his stories are grossly underdeveloped. In "In Ruth's Country" in particular the backdrop is the Utah desert and what could have amounted to a rich evocative description of the mesas and wild cattle roaming over the country falls particularly flat. The c ...more
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i read _the watch_ when rick bass came as a mackey chair to teach at beloit. he came into the office where i worked a lot, and i thought he seemed interesting, real, and down-to-earth...unlike some of the other visiting writers. really, i was curious about his writing and hadn't heard much about him. after reading this book, i gave a copy to my dad who now carries it around with him as one of his go-to books when he has down-time. i've read the watch many times, and each time i am drawn in to hi ...more
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Rick Bass to pieces. I love him in the way I love any larger than life storytelling writers that hit big or miss big. Bass primarily hits big here with the stories which introduce us to characters he brings back again and again, like Kirby, and even a largemouth bass. Some reviewers have said these are stories for men but I disagree, while there is a muscularity to both the men and the stories, they are for everybody.

If you like Jim Harrison or Richard Ford, or Annie Proulx you will proba
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Ice at the Bottom of the World: Stories
  • Kentucky Straight: Stories
  • I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down: Collected Stories
  • A Relative Stranger: Stories
  • High Lonesome
  • The Pugilist at Rest
  • Poachers
  • Dead Boys: Stories
  • Letting Loose the Hounds: Stories
  • Town Smokes: Stories
  • Big Bad Love
  • The Point and Other Stories
  • The Stories of Richard Bausch
  • Typical: Stories
  • In the Garden of the North American Martyrs
  • Rock Springs
  • Selected Stories
  • Big World
See similar books…
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
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Nothing will get you into trouble so deep or as sad as faith.” 7 likes
“Fit in where you don't: make your own different..don't give in. Exist somewhere you're not suppose to, or where you don't want to. Be your own men; do what you want, and don't hurt anybdoy” 6 likes
More quotes…