Oil Notes is about the excitement of the earth below us, the passing of time, and oil: where it is trapped, how it is discovered, and its gradual disappearance. Writing in the form of a journal, Rick Bass brings a lyric imagination to the oil geologist’s craft, measuring people’s short lives and relationships against the seemingly immutable history of the earth, showing mountains and forests that do not move while we are free to race across them, living our lives in the ultimate freedom of speed. To dig for oil is a way to dig deep into human experience, a kind of subterranean exploration of self. And nothing escapes this writer’s eye or imagination.
In lean, considered prose, Bass’s essays and notes offer fascinating insights into the oil industry while skillfully painting the picture of a young man on the verge of adulthood. Oil Notes successfully conveys the excitement of possibility—a stimulating career, the pursuit of a wonderful woman, the beautiful mystery of the earth—that so addresses and captivates us in our own lives.
Bass provides a new introduction for this edition reflecting how much—and how little—has changed since his youth in the oil industry.
Rick Bass, a former petroleum geologist and wildlife biologist, is the author of seventeen works of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, including the novel Nashville Chrome.
“Rick Bass has accomplished the remarkable feat of doing for oil exploration what Izaak Walton did for fishing.”—Times Literary Supplement
“[Bass] knows how to write; and like his oil witchery, this gift is extravagant and natural.”—Time
“With the awareness and eye of a naturalist and a writer’s gift with language, [Bass] offers a low-key, upbeat work that celebrates youthful energy and optimism.”—Publishers Weekly
“Oil Notes pierces the human condition and drills deeply into the heart of man’s search for his place on the planet. It is a wildcat find, as rich and textured as the oil Bass sought in this chronicle of life and exploration in Mississippi. His voice hums with the power and rhythm of derricks, pumping language for the last drop of natural beauty.”—Jackson Clarion-Ledger
"An exuberant book, written with care and beauty . . . perhaps a classic in a brand-new form."--Jim Harrison
"Rick Bass is the best young writer to come along in many years. Oil Notes is full of fascinating information and vigorous life."--Annie Dillard