First Paragraph from “The Blue Tree” by Rick Bass

Though the Astoria to Zion release date isn’t until March, we thought we’d get in the giving spirit a little early. What better way to introduce readers to the best of Ecotone than a taste from each story? Every Monday over the next several months, we’ll post the first paragraph from a featured story in the collection. So look for the series every Monday and be sure to check our blog for additional updates.

From “The Blue Tree” by Rick Bass

“It’s the afternoon of the day before Christmas Eve, and still there is no tree. Somehow this week has just slipped away. It’s taken them forever to get packed and ready for the trip to their cabin in the woods, but finally Wilson has issued the proclamation to his wife and daughters that it’s time to relax and start enjoying the holidays, damn it. After twenty years, he’s lost his job as a road-construction engineer, and though he knows, intellectually, that he’s foolish to be brooding on it at a time of year when his priorities should be reordered, he can’t help it, he’s still a little tense. Belinda’s not working, she’s been focusing on being at home as much as possible while their girls, Stephanie and Lucy, are young. Wilson never thought he would be out of work. He thought work always existed, like air. You breathed, you worked.”

—Rick Bass

Excerpted from “The Blue Tree” from Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade . Copyright © 2014 by University of North Carolina Wilmington. Used by permission of Lookout Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.