October 09, 2011
The Lost Grizzlies by Rick Bass
Rick Bass tells this book in three parts. Each describes a trip that he takes out to the San Juan Mountains in Colorado to determine if there are still Grizzly Bears in the area. They are thought to be hunted out, but more and more evidence points to the fact that they may still be roaming the mountains, just infinitely more solitary then they ever once were. Each trip takes place a year apart and has some reoccurring people that join him. Most noticeably is Doug Peacock, a wilderness guy who could arguably be called the heart of the operation. He leads the expeditions and seems to organize things while being somewhat solitary himself. Once in awhile the mission for bears will be sidetracked by the discovery of chantrelles and the subsequent eating of them.
As a narrator Bass presents himself pretty well, although I found it a bit disconcerting the he mentions medical problems but never really says whats going on exactly. It makes you worry about him and distracts from the actual telling of the book since he never really goes any further with it. His descriptions of the other people are fair, but I think he does tend to over-characterize them a bit. At times, Peacock does not even seem like a real person.
I liked the premise of the novel although it does go somewhat slow at times. Bass gets caught up in his tale and he starts focusing on trivialities when he could be moving the story along. But his writing is beautiful and it does make up for that. He is very descriptive and you can almost feel his emotions through reading his words. And his description of the mushrooms they fixed during the book absolutely made my mouth water. And I do think he did a favor for the bears of San Juan Mountains; he makes them mysterious which in turn makes them more special and could even help their cause as people fall in love with their story.
Definitely an interesting book. If you're into non-fiction this is one to read.
The Lost Grizzlies