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Bass was born in Fort Worth, Texas, U.S., the son of a geologist, and he studied petroleum geology at Utah State University. He grew up in Houston, and started writing short stories on his lunch breaks while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1987, he moved with his wife, the artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, to the remote Yaak Valley, where he works to protect his adopted home from roads and logging. Rick serves on the board of both the Yaak Valley Forest Council and Round River Conservation Studies. In 2011 Rick moved from the Yaak area of Montana to Missoula, Montana. He continues to give readings, write, and teach around the country and world. He lives in Montana with his family.
He won the 1995 James Jones Literary Society First Novel Fellowship for his novel in progress, Where the Sea Used to Be. He was a finalist for the Story Prize in 2006 for his short story collection The Lives of Rocks. He was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award (autobiography) for Why I Came West (2009). He was also awarded the General Electric Younger Writers Award, a PEN/Nelson Algren Award Special Citation for fiction, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
- The watch: stories. W. W. Norton & Company. 1994. ISBN 978-0-393-31135-8. (Originally published 1989)
- Platte River. University of Nebraska Press. 1994. ISBN 978-0-8032-5973-7.
- In the Loyal Mountains. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1995. ISBN 0-395-71687-X.
- The Sky, The Stars, The Wilderness. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1997. ISBN 0-395-71758-2.
- Fiber. University of Georgia Press. 1998. ISBN 978-0-8203-2063-2.
- Where the Sea Used to Be. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1999. ISBN 978-0-395-95781-3. (Originally published 1998)
- The Hermit's Story. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2003. ISBN 978-0-618-38044-2. (Originally published 2002)
- The Diezmo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2005. ISBN 0-395-92617-3.
- The Lives of Rocks: Stories. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2006. ISBN 978-0-618-59674-4.
- Nashville Chrome: A Novel. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2010. ISBN 978-0-547-31726-7.
- The Deer Pasture. W. W. Norton & Company. 1996. ISBN 978-0-393-31435-9. (Originally published 1985)
- Wild to the Heart. W. W. Norton & Company. 1997. ISBN 978-0-393-31487-8. (Originally published 1987)
- Oil Notes. Flamingo. 1990. ISBN 978-0-87074-383-2.
- Winter: Notes from Montana. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1991. ISBN 978-0-395-61150-0.
- The Ninemile Wolves. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2003. ISBN 978-0-618-26302-8. (Originally published 1992)
- The Lost Grizzlies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1997. ISBN 978-0-395-85700-7. (Originally published 1995)
- The Book of Yaak. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1997. ISBN 978-0-395-87746-3. (Originally published 1996)
- The New Wolves: The Return of the Mexican Wolf to the American Southwest. Globe Pequot. 2007. ISBN 978-1-59921-228-9. (Originally published 1998)
- Brown Dog of the Yaak: Essays on Art and Activism. Milkweed Editions. 1999. ISBN 978-1-57131-224-2.
- Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2000. ISBN 978-0-395-92618-5. (Originally published 2000)
- Why I Came West: A Memoir. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2008. ISBN 978-0-618-59675-1.
- The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons at Home in Montana. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2009. ISBN 978-0-547-05516-9.
- Caribou Rising: Defending the Porcupine Caribou Herd, Gwitch-'in Culture and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Sierra Club Books. 2004. ISBN 1-57805-114-2.
- Pushcart Prize
- O. Henry Award.
- Best American Short Stories 1991
- Best American Short Stories 2001.
About Rick Bass, non-fiction by others
- The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass, edited by O. Alan Weltzein, (2001). ISBN 978-0-87480-697-7
- "A Guide to the Rick Bass Papers, 1982-1994". Southwest Writer's Collection. University of Texas. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- "Rick Bass: An Inventory of His Papers, 1958-2001 and undated"
- "Carl Sandburg Awards Bestowed On 4 Local Writers", by John Blades, Chicago Tribune, November 06, 1995.
- "O. Henry Award Winners 1919-1999". Random House. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
- Author papers at Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University
- Lopate Show with The Story Prize finalists: Rick Bass, Mary Gordon, and George Saunders (2/27/07)
- Danger Nonfiction in Narrative Magazine
- "Rick Bass", On Point, July 2, 2009
- "Rick Bass", Charlie Rose, August 10, 1998
- "Rick Bass", "Love of a Place", Outside Bozeman magazine
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