The Lives of Rocks

Fort Worth native RICK BASS has loaded his earthy story collection, THE LIVES OF ROCKS , with three-way relationships of all stripes—platonic, romantic, familial, adversarial—and with characteristic economy of language, he mines a wide range of human emotion from these mélanges à trois. “Goats” is a gentle slapstick about two teenage friends doing a poor job of raising heifers (encouraged by oddballs such as Goat Man, whose misprinted sign reads “Baby Claves, $15”) while they tend to an elderly grandfather through his mental decline. At the other end of the spectrum, pathos permeates “The Lives of Rocks,” the tale of an outdoorswoman with a grim cancer prognosis who finds solace in the visits of two fundamentalist kids to her isolated mountain cabin. Ultimately, Bass aims to deliver enlightenment as well as entertainment, and he laces fervent pro-environment messages throughout, sometimes overtly (“Pagans” and “Fiber”) and sometimes subtly (“The Windy Day”) but always with conviction and passion.

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