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.