Rick Bass

It’s no surprise that Rick Bass has cobbled together some of his old journalism and essays to constitute Why I Came West: A Memoir (Houghton Mifflin, $24). Portions have appeared before in Esquire, Sierra, the Kenyon Review, and . . . the Patagonia catalog? But why not? Good prose can appear in unlikely places, and Bass certainly has a love for remote places. A former geologist, he devotes substantial portions of his new book to defending his out-of-the-way home, Montana’s Yaak Valley, against despoilers and interlopers. (He also admits he left the Houston of his youth for the Rockies in part because of the Robert Redford movie Jeremiah Johnson.) Bass is both an advocate for sustainable logging practices and an opponent of silver-mining companies that leave toxic waste behind. Yet in arguing that the region should be declared a federal wilderness area, he claims he’s received death threats and lost friends. Better known as a short-story writer (in collections including The Lives of Rocks), he now seems to be turning into an environmental activist. “I used to be a fiction writer,” he writes. “I’ve had to all but abandon it, to speak out instead for another thing I love now just as much as language.” OK, so do they make a four-wheel-drive version of the Prius? Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, www.elliottbaybook.com. 7:30 p.m. (Also: Eagle Harbor Books, 157 Winslow Way E., Bainbridge Island, 842-5332, www.eagleharborbooks.com, 3 p.m. Tues., July 29.) BRIAN MILLER

Mon., July 28, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
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