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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Platte River
Rick Bass
Ballantine Books 06/01 Paperback $11.00
ISBN: 0-3453-9249-3

This paperback draws together three unforgettable novellas by Rick Bass. He is the author of The Watch, a collection of prize-winning stories, and numerous books about the great outdoors and animals. Bass is a natural, a writer with a voice like no one else's — especially when he is writing about the colorful characters who choose to live or test themselves in wilderness areas of America.

In "Mahatma Joe," an elderly evangelist tries to tame a town in northern Montana. He is desperate to win God's approval before he dies. While he and his wife tend a bountiful garden — the vegetables will be sent to Africa — Leena, an independent and poor woman who tents out in the wilderness, carefully watches and yearns to be a part of something wonderful and simple. Through a strange twist of fate, Mahatma Joe and this young woman are drawn together in a ministry that meets both their needs.

Another quirky and gratifying relationship is charted in "Field Events" where two athletic brothers in Glen Falls, New York, bring a mighty man named A.C. into their family circle. He's so strong that he's able to carry a cow comfortably on his back. They train him to become a record-shattering discus thrower while their lonely sister correctly sees A.C. as someone who can save her. In this entertaining tale, the right people meet at an opportune moment and everyone's life is enriched.

"Platte River" revolves around Harley, a middle-aged ex-football player who lives in an abandoned hunting lodge in Montana with Shaw, a model. Unhinged by her need to move on, he heads off to Michigan to visit an old friend. On the trip, Harley reflects upon his inability to let anything get past him. Trained as a linebacker, he realizes that his instincts aren't always right. Sometimes one just has to let go.

After reading these novellas, you'll definitely have Montana on your mind. And thanks to Rick Bass, you'll be better able to mourn the loss of relationships that just don't work and to revel in those which, against all odds, do.


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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