For a Little While

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For a Little While
480 pages; Little, Brown and Company
Cowboys and dog trainers, sullen teenagers and secretive housewives: All have found a home in the American short story. Now Rick Bass joins the pantheon of contemporary masters with For a Little While, a collection of new and previously published work that showcases his enigmatic talent, his passion for the dispossessed, and a style of beguiling strangeness like no other.

Bass roams widely, from the oil refineries of Texas to the mountain streams of upstate New York to Montana's majestic and forbidding Yaak River Valley. One feels the dance of seasons—humid summers and the sting of blizzards. But there's a common vulnerability among his characters, men and women who homestead on the margins, seeking out yet often retreating from human connection. Bass also probes the gray zone between our daylight lives and hidden impulses, as in teenage Annie's awakening desire for two male friends: "She beheld their bodies. They filled her dreams—first one boy, then the other—as did dreams of ghost ships and underworld rides."

Bass's gentle surrealism is reflected in iridescent sentences that ebb and flow, opening spaces for deeper meaning to emerge. For a Little While casts a spell both mythic and intimate, through the words of a virtuoso. 

— Hamilton Cain