cover image All the Land to Hold Us

All the Land to Hold Us

Rick Bass. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-547-68712-4

Bass turns the bleak and peculiar landscape of the Texas desert and the oil that lies beneath it into a vivid canvas for a slew of intense, sometimes hallucinatory narratives that always bring his characters back to the land. The author creates a cast of characters linked by their connection to place as well as a careless, unreflective greed: Richard, the love-sodden, fossil hunting oil geologist, Max Omo's salt mining family, and the plundering amateur archeologist Herbert Mix all stake their brief, temporal claims on the hostile, strange territory around Juan Cordona Lake, but the alternately grim and dreamlike pursuit of the lost circus elephant forms the unifying center of the novel. A strong novel that spotlights what humanity does to the land without acknowledging its costs. (Aug.)