Mississippi Books and Writers

October 2004

Note: Prices listed below reflect the publisher's suggested list price. They are subject to change without notice.

Caribou Rising: Defending the Porcupine Herd, Gwich-’in Culture, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

By Rick Bass

Sierra Club Books (Hardcover, $19.95, ISBN: 1578051142)

Publication date: October 2004

Description from Publishers Weekly:

In this poetic cri de coeur, Bass (The Book of Yaak) turns his focus to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He visited there to join the Gwich-’in tribe in its annual hunt for the life-sustaining caribou—as the Bush administration pressured Congress to open the herd’s traditional calving grounds to oil drilling. This bittersweet account of his stay conveys a profound appreciation for the immense, unblemished majesty of one of the few almost untouched landscapes on Earth; an eye-opening understanding of the intimate spiritual and physical connection, stretching back as much as 10,000 years, between the scattered Gwich-’in tribes and the migrant caribou; and an unexpected respect for how tribal elders and a young generation of activists in Arctic Village (pop. 150) have developed a media-savvy offense against “predatory” Alaskan politicians desperate to drill for a few months’ worth of petroleum. Bass is no starry-eyed optimist arguing abstractly for the environment; he concludes his emotional defense of the Gwich-’in uncertain that the preservation of a precious, ancient way of life is possible. But this eloquent narrative holds out hope.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Falling From Grace in Texas: A Literary Response to the Demise of Paradise

Edited by Rick Bass and Paul Christensen

Wings Press (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 0930324579)

Publication date: October 2004

Description from Publishers Weekly:

The Texas landscape, famous both for its mythic extent and the epic scale on which it has been despoiled, is the subject of this appealing but uneven protest anthology of environmentalist writings by associates of the Texas Institute of Letters. While the collection includes poetry and stories, it is dominated by short, sometimes perfunctory, essays. These include diatribes against the corrupt collusion between state environmental officials and developers, impressionistic surveys of ravaged oilfields and many pieces bemoaning the engulfment of pristine vistas and quaint old towns by polluted, sterile megalopolises. The best pieces, like Peter A.Y. Gunter’s elegiac retrospective on his family’s farm, evoke the land’s vanished abundance. Sometimes, though, the contributors’ exaltation of open space (Steven G. Kellman contends that “everyone needs an unpaved acre or two to think,” while Bass, from his wilderness home in Montana, insists that ”to know a deeper peace, I required the experience of tens or even hundreds of thousands of acres”) nears a knee-jerk anti-urbanism; the writers never reflect that their longing to escape the city and live close to nature is what drives the leading edge of the exurban sprawl they deplore. The result is a mix of the mournful, the angry, the hopeful—sharp glimpses into personal feelings, but few clear insights into environmental issues.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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