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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LITERATURE WITH A BIG "L"
In his short stories, Wallace Stegner writes scenes and descriptions that come alive as if the reader were right there, looking and feeling and smelling the world of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, shaking hands with down-home people, making small talk and eating a home-cooked meal. In fact, they are so well written, his stories remind me of 3-D. When 3-D movies first...
Published on November 19, 2009 by Swubird

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Prefer Stegner's full books.
This one was bits & pieces of his books. I felt like I was rereading & didn't end up finishing. Maybe would be better for a Stegner beginner, who was checking out his style.
Published 18 months ago by deborah arnst


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LITERATURE WITH A BIG "L", November 19, 2009
By 
This review is from: Collected Stories (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
In his short stories, Wallace Stegner writes scenes and descriptions that come alive as if the reader were right there, looking and feeling and smelling the world of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, shaking hands with down-home people, making small talk and eating a home-cooked meal. In fact, they are so well written, his stories remind me of 3-D. When 3-D movies first came out people in the theaters screamed and ducked for cover as the characters on the big screen seemed to leap right out into the audience. They were that real. Well, that's the best way I can describe Wallace Stegner's writing. It's as real as it gets considering it's just words on a piece of paper. But those beautiful words leap right off the page.

There are thirty-one stories in this book of which the author says came from his life. However, it's not an autobiography. He says he can't be trusted to write his biography. To quote, "I can't control my impulse to rearrange, suppress, add, heighten, invent, and improve." The result of all that creativity is some of the finest writing you'll ever come across. And that's not just my opinion. It's the opinion of those nice folks who gave him the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Of course, I always have to give a plug for Penguin Classic books. Love their style.

This book is what Literature is all about. I give it five stars.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stegner's Collection of Stories is all You'll Need, June 12, 2000
By 
Of all the authors I have read, few evoke such good feelings as Wallace Stegner. It's a shame that he was killed in a car crash in the early 1990s. I think he was just getting warmed up and he certainly had decades of experience yet to share with us. This collection of stories, like his novels, shows the conflicts of the human soul. Stegner liked to write about young boys coming of age in an often thoughtless society (and family). And, as you will learn by reading Jackson Benson's biography of him, Stegner had an autobiographical bent while writing his fiction. The locales of his stories resemble those places where his gambling, drinking father took him and his family in the early 1900s. It seems that Stegner was obsessed with his father, and many of his stories feature a version of him. He and his father had a rather poor relationship and Stegner's writing about him perhaps was his effort at catharsis. My favorite story in this collection is Goin' to Town. The expectations of this poor boy are shot to .... and he is left to endure the boredom of yet another day. Excellent stories, excellent writer.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stegner is a literary hero, December 17, 2010
This review is from: Collected Stories (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
There are 31 stories in this collection, written over a period of about 50 years. Naturally, the subject matter and quality varies. Stegner himself chose the stories for inclusion, as well as their arrangement in the collection. He clearly knew his best writing, because the better stories are in the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the book.

In the Foreword, Stegner says about the stories:
"I lived them, either as a participant or spectator or auditor, before I made fictions of them...and because the world and I were changing at an ever accelerating rate, some stories reflect events, social attitudes, and even diction that now seem dated."
This is what makes the collection worth reading. It covers so many time periods and lifestyles that are forever gone, preserved in literary amber by one who actually lived through those bygone eras.

The stories cover a variety of historical topics: the 1918 influenza epidemic, WWII wives waiting for letters from their soldier husbands, ranching life on the plains of Saskatchewan, and Prohibition days in Salt Lake City. All from someone who was there.

I think the most perfect story in the collection is "Double Corner." It showcases Stegner's talent for creating a powerful sense of place, as well as his ability to express the beautiful and heartbreaking impulses that make us human. If you read no other stories in this book, at least read this one.
"Double Corner" is about a little family of California fruit growers who try to take on the task of caring for the husband's mother rather than placing her in an old folks' home. But the mother has dementia, and all their love and good intentions may not be enough to keep her safe and keep themselves from falling apart. Stegner lets us see how difficult it is for everyone when a loved one is losing mental faculties, and how frightening life becomes for the one with dementia.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best, January 4, 2010
This review is from: Collected Stories (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Simply put, one of my favorite books. A true master of the word and especially the short story. His style is so compelling and easy to read, and his depiction of the country and its inhabitants is haunting. In my opnion, he's right up there with Steinbeck, and he blows Hemingway away! Thank goodness we'll always have his work!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, January 2, 2012
By 
J. Smallridge (Kansas City, MO USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Collected Stories (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
"Crossing To Safety" and "Angle of Repose" are two of my favorite books. Therefore, I knew I'd enjoy this collection. I just didn't expect to like it as much as I did. This is easily one of the best collections I've ever read because Stegner knows how to build tension even though one doesn't always notice it. He is a master of creating beautiful characters and places that cover every angle of the human experience. My personal favorite stories here are "The Traveler," "The Women on the Wall," "The Colt," "The View From the Balcony," and "The Blue-Winged Teal." This is American fiction at its finest.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, October 16, 2008
Perhaps the best story in the whole collection is another of Stegner's most well-known stories, The Sweetness Of The Twisted Apples. The story very simply and delicately limns the life and existence of one of the loneliest characters in American fiction, a young woman who lives at the end of a deserted country road, near an apple tree, whose only neighbor is a former lover who jilted her, after they were `goin' out.' The character is so beautifully realized that it almost seems that she's not human- but a ghost or angel. The tale ends with one of the most poignant scenes ever penned, as the girl looks off wistfully into the future:

Wiping a brush, Ross turned his easy, warm smile on her. `How is it in the spring? Pretty?'

It was surprising how responsive her wry little face was, `Oh, land just like a posy bed! It don't have very big apples any more, but it's a sight in the spring.'

She stood with folded arms, as her mother has stood by the side of the car in the farmyard. Margaret, for all her watching, could find no trace of bitterness or frustration or anger in the girl. Starved as it was, the gnomish face was serene.

`Springtime, we used to come up here most every night, when I was goin' out,' she said.

It is with emotion that Stegner is at his best, which puts him at odds with the other great American writer whose name was Wallace Ste-, the poet Wallace Stevens, who was the epitome of mindly verse. When Stegner goes a bit too cerebral, or relies on plot machinations even his skills with description are not enough to stop the veer of the tale from heading downward. Yet, in character studies, like The Chink or The Volunteer, or some of the aforementioned stories, Stegner has few published peers. And, the tales range across the continent, from Canada (his homeland) to Utah, California to Vermont.

Stegner loses his way in longer pieces, like the book's longest tale, Genesis, which follows the tough lives of Canadian cowboys at the turn of the Twentieth Century, through the eyes of a teenager named Rusty. The ranch they work on is owned by an absentee landlord who leaves the care of things all to hired hands. They herd on a ranch the size of a small nation. The story is about the risks they take to do their jobs in bringing the cattle in off the range for the winter. While this is a good set up, this is really a ten or fifteen page story, at most, not a novella, as the actions and characters' conversations get stale.

At his best, when he is concise, and focuses on characters and emotions, Stegner is one of the best depicters of the human condition you can read. When he's not he's still passable, and it's often when a writer is at his worst that the best assessments can be made of his overall oeuvre. That being the case, Wallace Stegner rides high in the saddle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Prefer Stegner's full books., May 9, 2013
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This one was bits & pieces of his books. I felt like I was rereading & didn't end up finishing. Maybe would be better for a Stegner beginner, who was checking out his style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another example of excellent writing by Wallace Stegner, August 26, 2014
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Wallace Stegner is, in today's era of questionable quality writers, a throwback to when the written word could "paint" pictures in each phrase, sentence, paragraph, page and story. I found myself reading one story a day. This way I could enjoy the descriptions of characters and places he creates. If you're looking for shoot-me-up, psycho drama, Wallace Stegner is not for you. However, if you want very well written literature, he's your man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars America at its finest, April 22, 2014
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This review is from: Collected Stories (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I wish I had known about Wallace Stegner ages before. What a fabulous collection of stories! A must read for Americans.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Short Stories, February 7, 2014
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I have decided that I don't care for short stories. When I read, I like to get into a good storyline. The author is gifted, however, so if you like short stories, I think you'll like this.
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Collected Stories (Penguin Classics)
Collected Stories (Penguin Classics) by Wallace Stegner (Paperback - July 25, 2006)
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