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Remembering Laughter Paperback – November 1, 1996

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Published in 1937, Remembering Laughter launched the Pulitzer Prize-winning Stegner's career as a novelist. The plot follows a love triangle among a farmer, his wife, and her sister, which becomes even more disastrous when the sister becomes pregnant. A Shooting Star also deals with marital infidelity as protagonist Sabrina Castro seeks the meaning of love outside the arms of her husband (LJ 4/15/61).
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Adroit and moving . . . has the quality of a rueful, ironic legend"
The New York Times

"There is no use to mention the assurance and calm that Mr. Stegner brings to his first book—it has to be read to be believed."
Saturday Review

"I thought Remembering Laughter a perfect little novel, clean, swift and assured, and I can still feel the weight of the disaster in it."
—Wendell Berry

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140252401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140252408
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 82 people found the following review helpful By South Dakota Farmboy on June 5, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
About five years ago I stumbled onto Wallace Stegner, and I haven't been able to leave him behind. I just got around to reading _Remembering Laughter_ this past winter, mainly because it was usually not even listed among his better books; that is too bad.
Stegner is one of the best American writers that hardly anybody knows, and this is probably one of his most underrated works. "Haunting" and "poignant" are two words that I almost always find myself using when describing Stegner's novels, and this novella is clearly in that category. This book is a great intro to Stegner. _Crossing to Safety_ and _The Spectator Bird_ are better, but in economy of words, this one holds its own.
For those of you who have never read Stegner, this is a great place to start. For those of you who have read Stegner, this is a delight to read. It's possible to see in this book the genesis of all of the stylistic techniques that Stegner would later employ to such great effect.
I regularly give this book to friends as a gift, usually in the hopes that they will also discover the joy of reading Wallace Stegner.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Stegner's brief, taut novel tells a haunting story of infidelity and the destruction of life that happens in the midst of shameless behavior. Set in the rural Iowa around the turn of 20th C., Alec and Margaret meet her sister Elspeth, arriving from Scotland, at the train station. Before long, Alec and Elspeth are romantic and the child from their liaison becomes the source of constant pain and love between the embattled, embittered three.
Stegner writes a straight-forward tale, giving personality to Iowa landscape and seasons much like Willa Cather did in her novels and stories. For this, he is clearly one of the West's better writers.
What stays with you after reading this tale is the horror of shame and then the loneliness of shamelessness. Each character lives in his or her shadows until the spell is broken by the son: Malcolm.
This story is the iceberg's tip in morality and the shame that lost decisions bring with them. Just because this novel is brief does not mean that it is light. Read it for a quick study in morality, grief, shame, and love.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Someone Else TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
This novelette is a brief and powerful illustration of the destructive power of marital infidelity and unforgiveness. The hurt and guilt run so deep that they dam the flow of communication, and laughter becomes only a memory. It's chastely told, as was the custom back when people were content to use their imaginations regarding matters of intimacy. The text is sorrowful yet beautiful, evoking scenes of Iowa farm life through the seasons. All the literary gifts we associate with Wallace Stegner are here in his first effort, awaiting depth and ripening through experience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on July 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Wallace Stegner's first novel, short, direct, and powerfully written. Set on a midwestern farm around the turn of the twentieth century, fun-loving Alec is married to prim and proper Margaret. After Margaret's younger sister Elspeth comes to live with them, she and Alec have an affair, with devastating consequences for the three. A son, Malcolm, is born out of the affair, who is raised thinking Alec is his uncle and Margaret his aunt. He finally learns the truth at novel's end, which is the weakest section of the book: it all transpires too quickly which diminishes the force of the revelation. But Stegner's writing is strong and vigorous; he is especially good at portraying Alec's wit and playfulness through his use of exaggerations and folkloric "whoppers." The icy cold relationship between Margaret and Elspeth (reminiscent to me of that between the characters in Edith Wharton's ETHAN FROME), is truly destructive and tragic. A fine debut achievement.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on January 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since I've read several other Stegner books and his Crossing to Safety is a favorite novel of mine, I thought I'd try Remembering Laughter, his very first novel, or 'novelette,' as it was first called. The subject - marital infidelity - is dealt with most delicately, which gives the book something of a quaint, dated feeling. The writing itself, however, is assured and eloquent and gives a good, if limited, sense of Iowa farm life at the turn of the 20th century. My gut response to this short read, with all its details of repressed feelings and pent-up sexuality as well as untimely tragic death and dark family secrets, was that it evokes a kind of Ethan-Frome-in-Iowa feeling. I would recommend the book to any student of Wallace Stegner's work. - Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir BOOKLOVER
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jeff P Walkowski on August 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read Stegner's "Spectator Bird" about 20 years ago and loved that book. I wanted a quick read and stumbled on this one - originally written in 1937. Mostly soap opera, but oh-so tautly written. Very well-painted characters. If only all novels can be written with such power and economy as this one! I'll be looking for more Stegner to read now that my interest in this author has been rekindled by "Remembering Laughter."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barrie Downey on August 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered Stegner only recently and in addition to this one, have read four of his later novels. Great plot structure and use of language, but more importantly, wonderful development of believable - and mostly loveable - characters.
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