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All the Land to Hold Us: A Novel Hardcover – August 13, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (August 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547687125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547687124
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* All that distinguishes Bass as a superb fiction writer of rare knowledge, unique sensibility, and profound imagination is present in this incandescent desert saga. Bass states his sonorous theme— A strange and powerful landscape summons strange and powerful happenings—and brings us to West Texas, where immense salt flats surround a salt lake, and oil and even more precious water pool beneath the sand sea. As Bass once was, Richard is a geologist working for an oil company and ardently reading the desert like a vast book of time. He is hopelessly in love with elusive Clarissa, and together in an erotic trance, they search for fossils in the dazzling heat and find eerier relics, the remains of wagon trains. Another couple living in another time on this bone-strewn land, a fanatic salt miner and his lonely wife, are abruptly transformed by the surreal arrival of an elephant in desperate need of rescue. Other iconic figures of peril, displacement, and wonder appear as Bass unearths astonishing pieces of forgotten history; tells the stories of an old treasure hunter, a renegade schoolteacher, and a daring artist; and dramatizes the devastation the demand for oil has wrought. Writing with rhapsodic intensity and cosmic attunement, Bass magnificently portrays an elemental place cherished by indomitable individuals seeking the sustaining essence of life. --Donna Seaman

About the Author

RICK BASS’s fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Most recently, his memoir Why I Came West was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.


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Customer Reviews

I'm sure this book is for somebody, but it's just not for me.
Kathleen Derevan
"All the Land to Hold Us" by Rick Bass is a novel full of rich, lyrical, prose that transforms scenery, images, dialogue into an almost dreamlike story.
Wilhelmina Zeitgeist
These three chapters appear to tell a complete and satisfying story.
B. Case

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By B. Case TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel is very different and incredible beautiful. The prose was unusually rich and the story, at times, so emotionally intense that once, at the end of a chapter midway through this book, I felt a mild state of true ecstasy wash over me. I am still trying to figure out how the author managed to do that to me. I know it wasn't magic. It's never happened before. Perhaps it has to do with the way Bass builds phenomenal storytelling tension using long passages of incredibly vivid descriptive prose. Or, perhaps it has to do with his style of using paragraph-long sentences that read like incantations. I like the way he uses complex metaphors that make the reader stop and think carefully while the words blossom into extraordinary--almost otherworldly--images in the mind's eye. Whatever it is, I know this book touched me in a very special way.

So what about the story? Here, too, the book is most unusual.

The first three chapters take place in 1976 near Odessa, Texas. They tell the story of the unconventional romance of Richard and Clarissa. In slow, exquisite, and lyrical detail, we learn about the young man's intense, dogged, and sensual four-month pursuit to gain Clarissa's love. Richard is a promising geologist working for the local petroleum industry; Clarissa is a stunning local beauty. The problem is that Clarissa sees love as a trap. She wants nothing more than to leave Odessa, go to California, and become a movie star. The harder Richard pursues, the more she shies away. These three chapters appear to tell a complete and satisfying story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nancy on September 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Don't let this be your first reading of this fine and highly gifted author. You will find it too long, too slow. If you are impatient, want a virgin plot that moves quickly, hate insightful descriptive genius and writing that pauses you to think from deep perspectives, this may not be your cup of tea. His earlier non fiction is much easier to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I just finished reading Rick Bass' new novel, "All the Land That Holds Us." When I reached page 84 in Book One, (the novel is made up of 3 Books), I found that I was plodding along - simply bored with the characters and storyline. This first third of Bass' novel is a dense & difficult read. It is all narrative, no dialogue. The POV is that of an omniscient observer. I have read a few of the author's books: "The Ninemile Wolves'" and "The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness." I really enjoyed them and respect Mr. Bass as the talented, award-winning writer he is. However, I do not think he is up to par in his latest offering.

When I reached the infamous page 84, an image came to mind. I was in an art gallery, or an art museum, and viewing the work of a famous, much lauded artist. "OBJECTIVELY," I recognized the paintings for their worth. I believed that the critics' and other viewers' praise was "on the money!" Now, "SUBJECTIVELY," the work left me cold. It didn't touch me personally. I thought of an artist, perhaps someone like Jackson Pollack, and know many art lovers who think his paintings are the work of genius...and they might be. While recognizing the greatness of Mr. Pollack's work, I am untouched by his paintings. So it is with "All The Land To Hold Us." I can appreciate the excellence of the author's prose and the novelty of the story he tells...but I am not moved by any of this. I have now finished reading the novel and understand, objectively, why so many people rated it 4-5 stars. However, I am left feeling that the novel has added little to my life, except for the knowledge I acquired reading about the "Land." I did complete the novel as it improved in Books 2 & 3.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Rick Bass' new novel manages to overcome frustrating structural issues with its elegantly clotted language and a strong sense of the tragic dualities of human desire. The narrative is all over the place-- 80 pages of one set of characters, 100 pages of another, then back to the first set, then combining the two and introducing others to boot-- and so slow-moving that the first half utterly fails to build momentum. It's not just the absence of plot: the prose and themes are also repetitive, beating the reader over the head with "desert as metaphor for the human condition," and lingering so long on description of the beauty and deadliness of the milieu that the reader's initial awe gives way to irritation. But the second half, though still longer than it needs to be, moves at a more reasonable pace and has more emotional variety, so that the self-regarding intensity of the language becomes a virtue rather than a drawback. And even in the rougher patches there are extraordinary scenes that capture perfectly the way those who build lives in inhospitable places are but a reflection of the universal urge toward dangerous yet deeply satisfying experience. Bass writes, "What was it about a desert landscape, he wondered, that produced such needs and appetites, such oversized dreamers and flash-in-the-pan pretenders?" But of course those dreamers and pretenders are no different from the rest of us, except that the scope of their dreams and pretensions is greater, and therefore ideal fodder for a gifted novelist's imperfect yet unforgettable creation.
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