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9 Reviews
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much more than just the summary of a man's life., April 14, 2001
This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
Bruce Mason, a diplomat and ambassador in his sixties, returns to Salt Lake City for the funeral of his aunt, who is the last remaining connection to a family history Mason has spent forty years avoiding. During the day and night he is there, he travels throughout Salt Lake, trying to locate landmarks from his troubled early life while reminiscing about the events which permanently influenced choices he made and directions he took as an adult. Gentle and reflective in tone, despite its scenes of sadness and disillusionment, this is a novel quite different from Stegner's epics, such as Angle of Repose and Big Rock Candy Mountain, with their enormous scope. Here, he creates what amounts to a memoir--a record of the life-changing experiences which one man, Mason, associates with his family, friends, and upbringing during the brief 24 hours he is in Salt Lake City.

Although this is supposed to be a sequel to Big Rock Candy Mountain, with the same main character, one need not have any familiarity with that book to enjoy this one, a book so introspective that one cannot help but wonder about the degree to which it is autobiographical. Like many of us who have outlived and, in some cases, out-achieved our parents, Mason finds his memories bittersweet. He is filled with resentment for the unintentional injuries and deliberate cruelties which made his youth and adolescence a misery. At the same time that he recognizes that he would never have been so motivated to achieve and escape had he not been so needy and so "hungry."

Though many authors have dealt with the "you can't go home again" theme, Stegner suggests here that one must go home again, not to relive early, unpleasant events again and again, stuck in the past, but to relive those events and reevaluate them from the perspective and experience one has gained over time. Unsentimental and uncompromising in its message, the book is a touching and sensitive look at the baggage we all carry with us and the need to put it aside. Mary Whipple
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, a beautiful book but I howled in frustration at the end, September 16, 1999
By 
geebs@erols.com (Takoma Park, maryland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
A beautifully written, powerful book. I'm sure in literary and high-minded ways in its entirety it all made sense. But on the basic level of reader and story, I felt cheated. The plot as constructed and pursued seemed to "promise" a delivery from page one that was not made. The unrequited reader! I was so immersed in the threads of his life and the characters from his past, I expected those last doors to open, long-delayed encounters to happen... Still, Stegner is masterful and I look forward to reading those of his books I haven't yet. 20 years ago I loved Big Rock Candy Mountain (yet had forgotten all the characters and did not realize this was a sequel until after). One of the most stunning pieces of writing I have ever encountered is his story of a winter cattle drive in Wolf Willow.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Fantastic, March 5, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
Being from the Salt Lake area I was utterly impressed with the reality with which Stegner portrays life in Utah. More amazing is the emotion Stegner elicits with beautiful language and imagery that leave the senses wanting. The dark history of Bruce Mason is an incredible journey through swamps of heartache. This is a book that will forever shape the decisions I make about the relationships that define me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Follow-Up To The Big Rock Candy Mountain, June 11, 2012
This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
This is like a coda written forty years after the symphony. If you haven't read The Big Rock Candy Mountain, I suggest you do so. Then, while it is still fresh in your mind, read Recapitulation. It fills in details left out of the first book and lets you get to know "Brucie" a lot better as he struggles through puberty and beyond in Salt Lake City. If you've grown attached to the Mason family through The Big Rock Candy Mountain, you'll find yourself wanting even more, as I did.

Bruce Mason returns to Salt Lake City forty-five years after fleeing in anger and pain. As he passes by the old landmarks, the memories of his formative years begin to coil around him and eventually crowd his mind and haunt his dreams. The novel is floaty and dreamy and sepia-toned, taking Bruce back to events and feelings from the 1920s-30s in no particular order. Stegner's approach is very true to the nature of memory and nostalgia, including the need to whitewash experiences or downplay our culpability for things that went sour.

I thought this was going to be the one Stegner novel I'd get through without crying, but he got me on the next to last page. I'm not sorry about that. I probably would have been disappointed if I'd finished it dry-eyed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a tremendous read!, July 28, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
I am not very well versed in Stegner, although I did love Crossing to Safety. My wife bought Recapitulation for me and I loved every minute of it. He captured distant moments clearly and with laser-sharp sentiment.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, April 27, 1999
By A Customer
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This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
Recapitulation is every bit as good as The Big Rock Candy Mountain. Recapitulation will break your heart. Stegner's descriptions of the Salt Lake area are so good that you can almost smell the salt in the air.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stegner's Beautiful Insight, February 10, 2002
By 
Maria Folsom (East Glacier Park, Montana USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
When a real-life event pulls you back into The Past, where you didn't want to go, this is what happens. Though not an action-packed thriller, it is elegant and touching.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to Wallace Stegner, May 4, 2008
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This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
Sheer coincidence led to me to read this novel as my introduction to WS: it was the only thing by him on the library shelf on my way to to airport. What a fantastic introduction a great writer. This turns out to be a sequel to Big Rock Candy Mtn, which tells the story of Wallace's parents and of Wallace too. Recapitulation goes back and looks more closely at parts of these lives just hinted at in BRCM.

There are passages in here you will never forget, and passages that you will feel lucky to have found. I'm now on my fifth Stegner book and still feel that way.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stegner books, August 17, 2013
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This review is from: Recapitulation (Paperback)
Stegner is always interesting and a good read -- this is a good follow up to Big Rock Candy Mountain -- which is also a very good read.
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Recapitulation
Recapitulation by Wallace Stegner (Paperback - November 1, 1997)
$16.00 $13.87
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