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The Spectator Bird (Contemporary American Fiction) Paperback – November 1, 1990
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
—Jane Smiley, from the Introduction
"Elegant and entertaining . . . every scene [is] adroitly staged and each effect precisely accomplished."
Top Customer Reviews
This is a book about love, about duty, about the sweet fulfillment of an enduring marriage, and about the sad futility of age. It is about kindness and despair; about joy and the bittersweet sadness of unrequitted love. It is filled with intelligence and wit and written by a man who was an absolute master of his craft.
It is pointless for me to go on. There is no superlative I can use which will ever do justice to this lovely, poignant novel. Despite the fact that we know what the inescapable conclusion is going to be, the last five or six pages are nevertheless like a series of hammer-blows to the heart, and I don't recall another novel bringing tears to my eyes as this one did at its end. It is only January the 6th, and I know I will not read a better novel this year, or perhaps for many years to come.
This book won the National Book Award in 1977. It's about Joe Allston, a retired literary agent, who lives with his wife in California. He is 69 years old and looking back at his life with a sense of discontent. He and his wife relive a trip they took to Denmark 20 years before, by reading a journal that Joe kept while they were there. The plot line switches back and forth from the present to the past.
This book is about the choices we make in our lives and how they affect everything that comes after. It's about aging and death, and foremost about life. Stegner writes about real life in such intimate terms that it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck (at least it does that to me). Needless to say, a very highly recommended read.
In this work, the National Book Award winner for 1977, Stegner profiles a few days in the lives of Joe Allston and his wife Ruth, who are in their twilight years, almost 70, and retired in relative comfort near San Francisco. A respected literary agent, Allston feels the pang or sense of not having accomplished much of direct or lasting value or personal satisfaction in his own life, paralleling his own experiences with that of the bird that watches and observes the living of other, more active and involved birds. He sees himself as being on the perimeter of the lives of those writers that he represents and also reads; but whom he both loves and hates.
Having regard to the title and parallels, this is not really a book about birds, for if it was, I doubt I could have stayed the course. It is a story of a man both in part frustrated and satisfied, although not at a point of admitting either emotion fully, who explores a period in his life some twenty years before, which had a profound and lasting impact on his life since. His son having died many years before, he has lived out his life with Ruth, and there are silences, a few secrets, many knowing looks, questions, but also many shared emotions that give their marriage and this story much resonance. A large part of the book follows his journal writing 20 years earlier while on a sabbatical with his wife in Denmark, the land of his mother's birth, and from where she fled at a young age. There are some secrets buried in that place that form the backdrop for this story. This is a story of reflecting and learning, rather than neat thirty minute lessons lived out with happy conclusions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a book for a man to read. I am sure most men have these inner dialogues and fears of growing old. I don't and don't think many women do. I. Read morePublished 27 days ago by V. Reck
The writing is beautiful and the themes cut deep. I can see why it won the National Book Award. It's every bit as contemporary as it was in 1974 when it came out.Published 29 days ago by Bookieren
The book arrived on time....in perfect condition... and at a very good price.
I recommend this book for any fan of thoughtful well written books. Strangers characters are well developed. His vocabulary is enviable.Published 3 months ago by Janet Beyer
This book is intelligent, funny, mysterious and wise. If you want to read a thoughtful book that is perfectly written, I would reccomend this masterpiece. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mark Buckley