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Hardcover Wallace Stegner: Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs Book

ISBN: 0517124084

ISBN13: 9780517124086

Wallace Stegner: Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good*

*Best Available: (missing dust jacket)

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Book Overview

Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, "Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs" gathers together Wallace Stegner's most important and memorable writings on the American West: its landscapes, diverse history, and shifting identity; its beauty, fragility, and power. With subjects ranging from the writer's own "migrant childhood" to the need to protect what remains of the great western wilderness (which Stegner dubs "the geography...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Conservation, National Parks

wonderful read by a man who was instrumental in helping build our national parks and raise awareness about their importance in the value of America

Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs

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.

To Let Go the Color Green

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 take as illumination. 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. In his generation, 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. Stegner not only attempted to define, but genuinely wanted to share whatever nuggets he felt he picked up along the way. Maya Angelou admitted to an audience in New York this year that she was a teacher who writes, and this is a sentiment expressed in Stegner's writing, as well as his years as a professor. The sense of place is a strong backdrop, maybe too much so, but he also calms us with easy prose, allays our fears about the sometimes biographical nature of fiction, convinces us we're not alone in familial pain of a certain type, and provides lingering analogies about his art. One question about his work for me that this volume didn't answer was his view of God and spirituality. He said he was, "not-so-Christian." At times he admired the Mormons, but not completely. He probably meant for it to be this way, not wanting to drift into the ambiguity of the Transcendentalists. I think that these lingering questions become the most important about his work: Did he believe that Nature, dominating the Western man's experience, was a reflection of something higher, or the end itself? Did he view his existence along an arch that began and ended in the arid desert, or did he see the Divine as he gazed across the Great Divide? I don't think

The American west.

"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.


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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