Books: The call of the West
"Why I Came West: A Memoir" by Rick Bass| (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 238 pps.)
"Rick Bass is one of this country's greatest and most reluctant activists. He grew up in Texas, worked for eight years in Mississippi as an oil and gas geologist and moved, 21 years ago, to the Yaak Valley in northwestern Montana. He started writing fiction, but it didn't take long for the landscape and a certain "chemistry of spirit," he writes, to turn him into an environmental activist. Bass was shaped, he freely admits, by the land.
"Why I Came West" is the story of that process. It proceeds as a series of questions the author asks himself: How did I get here? How is it possible to be a hunter, an oil geologist and an environmentalist? How did I become an advocate for wilderness? How can I avoid burnout? How can I, as an American no matter how well-intentioned, avoid being a hypocrite? When can I go back to being a fiction writer? When can I stop fighting and just walk back into the woods?"