"For a Little While," by Rick Bass

"For a Little While: New and Selected Stories"

By Rick Bass

Little, Brown and Co.

As a finalist in the short story category of the High Plains Book Awards, Rick Bass’ "For a Little While" affirms his standing as perhaps Montana’s most talented and insightful writer. Slipping into one of Bass’ stories is to be immersed in the sensory detail of environments ranging from Montana’s Yaak Valley to Mississippi to Texas to high school basketball courts in Montana.

As the story “Swans” begins, the reader feels soothed by such sentences as “the scent of her fresh loaves drifts across the green meadows and hangs along the river banks.” But Bass doesn’t stop at crafting memorable sentences. By the end of this and all Bass’ stories, he has illuminated the universal human feelings of loneliness, loss and yearning. His characters typically live outside the mainstream — they might be loggers, horse breakers, drifters, coaches, and they often endure harsh or brutal circumstances.

At the same time, Bass evokes the power and beauty of the natural world and of the human spirit. The concluding lines of “Coach” nail a feeling any coach or athlete can recognize: “... he steps ... into a place and a time where, and during which, no one will ever grow old or in any way diminish, but instead will burn brightly, purely, cleanly and where each of them, even Coach himself will, if only they can win, always be loved.”

Lou Mandler is an educator and writer. She has published a memoir and two articles on Ernest Hemingway.

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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.