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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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From Publishers Weekly
Stegner's love of unspoilt nature and of the American West shines forth in these 17 graceful essays. This book by the Pulitzer Prize and NBA winner is a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee for criticism.
Copyright 1993 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Wallace Stegner is a wonderful writer, and I try to live up to his advice in these collected short essays and lectures from over the years concerning the proper husbandry of our nation, our planet. He explains in detail the powers and limits of various watchdog government agencies, the working and failing attempts to keep our National Parks and Wilderness areas wild, and what we can do as average citizens to assure successful co-existence on this planet.
It is almost impossible to understand and appreciate the 'real' western United States by instant immersion. Even natives such as I occasionally need a reminder of the perks of living in the high plains desert, when drought becomes a years long problem, or the winds interrupt your days out of 'season'. We need to be reminded to view the sun dropping below the curved horizon of the earth, or spend a day in the majestic mountains or a night star gazing to put everything back into perspective.
If you are a newcomer to the west, or a disgruntled native, get this book. If you are thinking about visiting, even short term, get this book.