For a Little While by Rick Bass

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For a Little While by Rick Bass

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Megan Kenny
Reviewed by Megan Kenny
Summary: For a Little While is a dreamy, hazy summer afternoon in book form. I loved the simple, beautifully constructed narratives and the complex and intriguing characters. Each story gives an opportunity to delve into the lives of Bass' superbly flawed and human characters.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Pushkin Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1-78227-304-2

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For a Little While is a collection of twenty-five short stories from Rick Bass. As someone previously unacquainted with Bass' work this new collection was a wonderful introduction to his quirky, unusual style which focuses on stripped back, simple fables featuring often mundane situations, mysterious characters and magical experiences. The characters in each tale are beautifully crafted and the stories are dreamy, loose narratives covering everything from love to death to choices made and chances taken.

In the Legend of Pig-Eye we meet an ambitious boxer driven almost mad by desire to be the best. The physical endurance and palpable desire to achieve are richly evoked and, like the pounding pulse after an enduring run, the reader is pummelled with uncertainty and a need to know if he can do it, if Mack can outrun, outbox and outlast the legendary Pig-Eye.

In Field Events a mysterious stranger becomes the focus of a family lost and adrift, a chance for love, for glory and redemption. The simple beauty of this story comes from the restrained, quiet love between A.C. and Lory, a love which blossoms in the face of fear of broken hearts or loss. A central theme of this story is athleticism and strength, contrasted beautifully with the softness of love and the vulnerability of need and want.

By far my favourite story was The Watch, a strange, macabre tale of a man determined to assuage his loneliness, his desire to keep his father close at any cost, and the great lengths his father goes to in order to achieve his freedom. In The Watch, as in many of Bass' tales, the environment is a central character and the evocative, vivid depictions of a wild chase through the dank undergrowth of the deepest swamp adds to the predatory overtones of the tale and leaves the reader feeling as breathless as if they had been the one pursued. This emphasis on the significance of the environment, the changing seasons and the world around us is a recurring theme in For a Little While and adds to the rich and striking narrative.

I loved the mundane, everyday scenarios Bass crafts here, I also found the often unusual, magical nature of the events contained within each story thrilling. Whilst the characters are well crafted, the nature of the short, brisk tales means they are never fully formed and so left me wanting to learn more, know more and read more about them. The idea of almost magic, almost reality, almost tangible ideas, characters and scenarios is what I will take away from For a Little While, the hazy, almost surreal stories and the not quite completed thoughts all form part of a deliciously frustrating desire to read more from Bass, in the hope that by reading more it would be possible to understand his peculiar magic.

For those interested in more short stories with an unusual twist you could try The Collected Short Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis.

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Buy For a Little While by Rick Bass at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy For a Little While by Rick Bass at


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