Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review: Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had by Rick Bass

Have you ever read a book that is so gorgeous and resonant that it just tears your heart out? This is a book like that. Yes, you probably have to be a dog lover to fully appreciate the story but Bass' writing is sublime and loaded and rippling and majestic. He takes in Colter, his knob-headed hunting dog, as a favor to a friend, not knowing that this goofy looking pup will prove to be an absolute genius of a pointer and be the key to showing Bass the byways that many people never visit, teaching him about hunting and love and expectation and fulfillment.

Coupled with his transcendant prose about the natural world, this story of the best dog Bass has ever had is a delight. From Colter's entrance into Bass' life, his training as an incredibly promising hunting dog, all the hunts, successful and not, on which author and dog partner, to Colter's disappearance and the final resolution, this book glows with Bass' pride and love and respect for this most amazing animal in his life. It is an honoring of the bond they shared and a recounting of the lessons learned in each others' company. But most of all, it is a magnificently written book.

While Colter was a hunting dog and Bass did indeed hunt with him, the majesty and importance of the natural world shine through the whole narrative and it would be a shame for readers to dismiss the book from an anti-hunting stance. All animal lovers know that their pets have much to teach them but Bass has found a way to beautifully articulate those lessons in his paean to Colter. Much quoted in other reviews, the lines: "How we fall into grace. You can't work or earn your way into it. You just fall. It lies below, it lies beyond. It comes to you, unbidden," in the prologue give a sense of the reverence of the writing and the feeling captured in these pages. It is a grace fallen into, accidental or intentional, when the quiet reader opens the pages of this powerful, contemplative book.


  1. I had read a book that had this emotional effect on me lately, but never a fiction.

  2. This sounds wonderful! I really like the way you think and write.


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