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Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – April 9, 2002


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Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West (Modern Library Classics) + Angle of Repose (Penguin Classics) + Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (April 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375759328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375759321
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The American West is "less a place than a process," asserts Stegner. In these 17 graceful essays, most previously published in magazines or books, the novelist explores the dynamic tension between the West as means of escape from irksome obligations and its underappreciated role as teacher of hard lessons of community and environmental conscience. A masterful stylist who captures the untamed energy of the West in every inflection, Stegner paints word pictures of the landscape full of dry clarity. He has "Western migratoriness" in his blood, as revealed by autobiographical sketches tracing his peripatetic childhood from an Iowa farm to North Dakota wheat towns to Washington logging camps. In a deeply moving confessional letter to his mother he measures his life against his unspoken promises to the woman who died 55 years earlier. His love of unspoilt nature and of the West shines forth. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Western Americana and literary history by the Pulitzer-winning novelist. Now 80, Stegner here reviews his life in part, the West as writers have written about it, its landscape and the ever-changing effect of humanity upon it, and so on. Stegner believes that the West is finally coming into its own as a literary entity distinct from what eastern critics have found in it. Even so, he warns, ``without a more developed and cohesive society than the West, in its short life and against all the handicaps of revolutionary change and dispersion, has been able to grow--and without a native audience for its native arts--there may come a time in a writer's career when the clutch of the imagination will no longer take hold on the materials that are most one's own.'' That sentence points up Stegner's strengths and flaws: It digs into his subject of change and fragility both in landscape and citizenry, but does so in a voice more academic than earthy. Ever in search of the loamy detail, one reads through this collection of recent magazine essays and introductions to Stegner's own and others' books and finds less appeal to the senses than the wise overview, rich in itself but not rich in words. The best essay by far is a sigh-heavy memoir of his mother, ``Letter, Much Too Late,'' written some 50 years after her death, with her breath and heartbeat moved into the reader's own chest. Stegner's friendships with writers such as Walter Van Tilburg Clark and Wendell Berry ring with praise, as do his comments on John Steinbeck, Norman Maclean, and George Stewart. And one feels deeply rewarded by Stegner's wisdom about population shifts, the five or six main types of landscape, and his words about conservation, deadly dams, and the death of the desert. Absolutely worthwhile, but highly charged only here and there. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
The book has three sections.
Bonnie Lemot
This is true for the fiction, non-fiction, and even the literary analyses he includes here.
jerseymca
With its public lands, the west is a good place for that.
A Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on May 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Easterners are constantly being surprised and somehow offended that California's summer hills are gold, not green. We are creatures shaped by our experiences; we like what we know, more than we know what we like. ... Sagebrush is an acquired taste."
Stegner taught writing at the University of Wisconsin and at Harvard, but he had a strong sense of place and his place was the West. He accepted a position at Stanford University where he spent many years, and became, what many consider to be, 'the dean of Western writing' (by which we do not mean that he wrote "Westerns"). In this volume, Stegner sacks the Hollywood myths, and addresses the far more fascinating realities of the West. Featured here is a studied and caring investigation of what lies between the 98th meridian and the Pacific Ocean; of the land's great beauty and vulnerability to human foolishness. The compilation of essays also includes the author's reflections on his own life and work in the West, and examines critically the work of several significant literary "witnesses" of the American West. He reminds the reader of what criticism is: "A critic ... is not a synthesizer but an analyzer. He picks apart, he lifts a few cells onto a slide and puts a coverglass over them... His is a useful function and done well, ... may even give the reader the illusion of understanding both the product and the process. But ... whatever they can analyze has to be dead before it can be dissected ... critical analysis explains everything but the mystery of literary creation."
If you enjoy the works of John Steinbeck or Norman Maclean, or the powerful but fragile beauty of western lands, the essays collected in the Lemonade Springs are highly recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By jerseymca on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Stegner has a way with words, and this collection of excerpts and essays shows them off. In fact, reading Stegner in these discrete chunks may be the best way to appreciate him - especially if you read it out loud, letting the cadences of his writing drive the tempo. This is true for the fiction, non-fiction, and even the literary analyses he includes here. This was the book that got me excited about reading Stegner.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Heath Nieddu on January 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
As 2008 rolled to a close in the early days of December I gripped the steering wheel of a U-Haul truck as it shimmied through the plains on I-80, heading towards Wyoming, Utah, Idaho,and finally Oregon. Virginia and Florida were falling to my stern. Right before I left for our big move I read Stegner's "Angle of Repose." Maybe I left because of "Repose." Once I settled at my destination, Portland, I visited Powell's book store and purchased, "Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West." I'll make no pretensions about being able to impartially point out this anthology's strengths or weaknesses. My appreciation for Stegner's work is so profound my judgment is dimmed. I'm still in receive mode, and my thoughts float around digesting what I find.

Previously here, one reviewer retained sobriety and concluded that Stegner's Lemonade Springs was insular and xenophobic. I think there's some truth that Stegner's work had a geographic focus, and maybe a moral purpose, but that wasn't because he believed in the infallibility of the West, but rather because he loved it with its faults. Perhaps he felt his generation under-appreciated, or more likely, misunderstood his Western context. I think that the reviewer's analysis may have more weight if she were from the West, but being from Texas, maybe she was surprised by someone from outside the lone star state celebrating their home.

Stegner's work could be considered advocation, but it is also approachable from all corners because he was inspired by the good, and wounded by the bad. His precision in defining the rough, scrubby edges of his cultural landscape reveal more passion than desire for domination.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Lemot on July 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What makes Westerners different from other Americans? How has western life amplified the way we think, act, and define ourselves across America? If you're intrigued by these questions, Wallace Stegner's Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs has some interesting answers for you. This book of essays takes its title from the song "In the Big Rock Candy Mountains," a ditty that romanticized the West as a garden of Eden fated to bloom in the opportunistic hand of man. But the real story, as Stegner reveals, has been different. And that story is one we need to know today.

Stegner loved the West and saw its true nature. So although he talks about the tragedies of western development, often brought on by politics and real estate boosterism, he also presents the West's triumphs, especially through environmental activism that preserved much western land. The book has three sections. The first recaps Stegner's childhood in the West, which earned him the authority to speak on the region. The second contains essays that explore how western culture developed. His comments on the cowboy's origins are fascinating, and his capsule history of conservation perfect for readers who want that subject summarized.

The final section deals with western literature and its writers, including Jack London, John Steinbeck, Mary Austin, Joan Didion, Walter Clark, Scott Momaday, Linda Hogan, and others. The essay "The Sense of Place" offers wisdoms about western living that resonate today. Stegner said we must stop raiding and running from the earth. We need to be quiet once in the while. And we need to develop a sense of belonging to--not owning--the land. This book is for readers hungry to live along those lines.
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