Rebecca's Reviews > Winter: Notes from Montana

Winter by Rick Bass
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really liked it
bookshelves: memoirs, nature, writers-and-writing

I had never heard of Rick Bass before I picked up this terrific little book for a quarter in a library book sale. It’s a memoir of his first winter spent in Yaak Valley, Montana, aged 30 – a less mystical Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, if you will. “This valley shakes with mystery, with beauty, with secrets — and yet it gives up no answers...I’m falling away from the human race. I don’t mean to sound churlish — but I’m liking it.” (He wasn’t alone, though; he had with him his partner, artist Elizabeth Hughes, whose lovely line drawings illuminate this book. So although this is a book about solitude, it’s a modified solitude – they are alone together, with their dogs, facing the world alongside other isolated neighbors.)

This is probably best read while a blizzard is raging outside, tucked up next to a log fire, rather than during the mild, blossom-filled days of early March, but I still enjoyed it very much. Four stars instead of five because there are a LOT of wood chopping scenes. Sometimes it seems that’s all he does: find wood, chop it, burn it. It’s very much an elemental existence, back to the basics of survival. Still, there are some beautiful, nearly spiritual passages about the sanctity of a simple life:

“There are days when I promise, when I swear, that as long as I can walk up the trail behind the house, or as long as I can go out into the yard and look up at the stars, I’ll never be unhappy, never. Not just count my blessings, but shout them.”

I’d be interested in reading any of Bass’s other nature books (another about the Yaak, one about wolves, and one about grizzly bears in the Colorado mountains), and trying his fiction. I would highly recommend this one for fans of Fire Season by Philip Connors.

(This is my 200th review posted to Goodreads — huzzah!)
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Reading Progress

January 7, 2014 – Started Reading
January 7, 2014 – Shelved
January 26, 2014 – Shelved as: memoirs
January 26, 2014 – Shelved as: nature
January 26, 2014 – Shelved as: writers-and-writing
March 6, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason I've never read his work, either, but he lives where I used to live. He was once on a panel at MFOB that I took a class of mine to hear -- and let me tell you: he was SUCH an asshole. I don't know if he was having a bad day or what, but I've since taken to referring to him as Rick Ass.

message 2: by William (new)

William I've only read one of his - The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness, but it was great. He seems to have Cormac McCarthy's talent for bringing environments to life. Sarah Hall is really good at that too.

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