Rock Springs by Richard Ford

★★★★★ (5/5)

A collection of brilliantly carved short stories, reminiscent of the brilliance of Raymond Carver. Astute, poetical and realistic, a thread weaves through the ten different stories, unifying them with the grand luster of trivialities of everyday life. Highly recommended!

Rock Springs

  • I don’t know what was between Edna and me, just beached by the same tides when you got down to it
  • And she seemed gloomy all of a sudden, as if she saw some aspect of the story she had never seen before
  • The trailer had that feeling that no one else was inside, which was a feeling I knew something about.
  • The truth is meant to serve you if you’ll let it, and I wanted it to serve me
  • Here I am out here in the desert where I don’t know anything, in a stolen car, in a motel room under an assumed name, with no money of my own, a kid that’s not mine, and the law after me. And I have a choice to get out of all of it by getting on a bus. What would you do? I know
  • Through luck or design they had all faced fewer troubles,, and by their own characters, they forgot them faster. And that’s what I wanted for me. Fewer troubles, fewer memories of trouble

Great Falls

  • He looked up at me and smiled the way he had inside the house, a smile that said he knew something he wouldn’t tell, a smile to make you feel bad because you weren’t Woody and never could be.
  • “Sometimes I even have a moment when I completely forget what life’s like. Just altogether.”
  • Though possibly it—the answer—is simple: it is just low-life, some coldness in us all, some helplessness that causes us to misunderstand life when it is pure and plain, makes our existence seem like a border between two nothings, and makes us no more or less than animals who meet on the road—watchful, unforgiving, without patience or desire.


  • “We don’t know where any of this is going, do we?” she said, and she squeezed my hand tight. “No,” I said. And I knew that was not a bad thing at all, not for anyone, in any life.
  • Arlene looked out the side window at the river. There were still traces of fog that had not burned off in the sun. Maybe it was nine o’clock in the morning. You could hear the interstate back behind us, trucks going east at high speed
  • Somehow, and for no apparent reason, your decisions got tipped over and you lost your hold. And one day you woke up and you found yourself in the very situation you said you would never ever be in, and you did not know what was most important to you anymore. And after that, it was all over. And I did not want that to happen to me—did not, in fact, think it ever would. I knew what love was about. It was about not giving trouble or inviting it. It was about not leaving a woman for the thought of another one. It was about never being in that place you said you’d never be in. And it was not about being alone. Never that. Never that.


  • “Do you ever have the dream that somebody you know is leading you into a river and just when you’re knee-deep, you step in a hole and you fall under. Then you jump in your sleep, it scares you so much?”
  • and this was how you knew what a fool was—someone who didn’t know what mattered to him in the long run


  • They had a loud laugh, or a moustache or enlarged pores, or some mannishness that went back to a farm experience with roughneck brothers and a cruel, strict father—something to run away from. Bad luck, really. Something somebody with a clearer oudook might just get over and turn into a strong point. Maybe he could find out what it was in Doris and treat her like a normal person, and that would make a difference
  • And in the silence that followed his own name, the feeling of a vast outside world opened up in him, and scared him so that he stood up beside the wall phone and stared at his own phone number
  • Children made life a misery and, once they’d finished, they did it again. That had been the first thing he and Marge had seen eye to eye on
  • But you can do a thing and have it mean nothing but what you feel that minute
  • Where’s the real life, right? I don’t think I’ve had mine, yet, have you?
  • He held her to him, her face against his as his heart beat. And he felt dizzy, and at that moment insufficient, but without a memory of life’s having changed in that particular way.


  • Trouble comes cheap and leaves expensive
  • I thought that though my life at that moment seemed to have taken a bad turn and paused, it still meant something to me as a life, and that before long it would start again in some promising way


  • I saw him as a man who made mistakes, as a man who could hurt people, ruin lives, risk their happiness. A man who did not understand enough


  • “Bygones are bygones to me,” Starling said. “I don’t think about it” “You’re such a literal, Eddie. You get lost in the lonely crowd, I think sometimes. That’s why I want to be nice and make you happy.” She held him close to
  • Then Lois closed the door and danced out before the car into the rain with the sparklers, waving her arms round in the air, smiling widely and making swirls and patterns and star-falls for him that were brilliant and illuminated the night and the bright rain and the little dark house behind her and, for a moment, caught the world and stopped it, as though something sudden and perfect had come to earth in a furious glowing for him and for him alone—Eddie Starling—and only he could watch and listen. And only he would be there, waiting, when the light was finally gone.


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