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Marking The Sparrow's Fall: Wallace Stegner's American West. Essays.

Stegner, Wallace.

Published by Henry Holt, New York, 1998
ISBN 10: 0805044647 / ISBN 13: 9780805044645
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Marking The Sparrow's Fall: Wallace ...

Publisher: Henry Holt, New York

Publication Date: 1998

Edition: First Printing of the First Edition


A Fine tight copy in a Fine bright unclipped dust jacket. This posthumous collection features fifteen of Stegner's essays on the West that have never before been published in book form, along with several pieces that have been published in somewhat different form. Most of these pieces were written with an eye toward educating the reader in the historical and ecological value of the western landscape. Stegner visits Lake Powell, the 200-mile-long result of damming Glen Canyon on the Colorado River; travels down the backwoods of Utah and Saskatchewan; and wanders through western ghost towns. Regardless the topic, each magical piece of writing collected here reveals the stylistic grace, humorous outlook, and intellectual rigor that earned Stegner his enormous readership and fame. Also included is Stegner's little known novella "Genesis.". Bookseller Inventory # 23953

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Synopsis: Winner of three O. Henry Awards, the Commonwealth Gold Medal, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Kirsch Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement, and recipient of both the P.E.N. Center USA West and the California Arts Council award for his body of work, Wallace Stegner is a literary giant.

In Marking the Sparrow's Fall, the first collection published since Wallace Stegner's death in 1993, his son Page has annotated and edited fifteen essays that have never before been published in books, a little-known novella, and Wallace Stegner's most powerful and well-known essays on the American West, which held sway in Stegner's vivid prose:

It is a country to breed mystical people, egocentric people, perhaps poetic people. But not humble ones. . . . Puny you may feel there, and vulnerable, but not unnoticed. This is a land to mark the sparrow's fall. --from Wolf Willow

Each magical piece of writing collected here reveals the stylistic grace, humorous outlook, and intellectual rigor that earned Stegner his enormous readership and fame.

Review: Born on an Iowa farm in 1909, Wallace Stegner was of the last generation to see the frontier West. His father, Stegner recalled in an autobiographical essay, was a land speculator who dragged his family from one dusty Western town to another in search of easy riches, and who "died broke and friendless in a fleabag hotel, having in his lifetime done more human and environmental damage than he could have repaired in a second lifetime." It was not an auspicious beginning, but the transient youth found his home in the small libraries of towns such as Yuma, Kanab, Alamosa, Cardston, and Rock Springs. The books he read there, including John Wesley Powell's Explorations of the Colorado River and Mark Twain's Roughing It, helped him put his life into a native context; when he began to write, first articles and then books such as Beyond the Hundredth Meridian and The Sound of Mountain Water, he did so as a proud Westerner, disinclined to apologize to Eastern readers for living by choice in the Great American Outback.

Stegner lived long enough to see the transformation of the American West from a vast land punctuated by small farming and ranching towns to a place of huge cities driven by high technology and the military-industrial complex. He began to write about this transformation early on, and especially about areas where urban civilization encroached on undeveloped lands. His essay "Wilderness Letter" of 1962 has often been cited as an organizing document of the then-forming environmental movement, widely discussed in connection with such matters as the damming of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and in Dinosaur National Monument; in it, Stegner alludes to wilderness as "a part of the geography of hope," a phrase that has become a byword of modern environmentalism. (Edward Abbey, who studied creative writing under Stegner at Stanford University, adopted it as a personal mantra.) "Wilderness Letter" and other of Stegner's writings for magazines such as the New Yorker and Holiday, many of them previously uncollected, are reprinted in this collection, which underscores the importance of Stegner's work to the development of Western regional literature and of contemporary ecological letters alike. Marking the Sparrow's Fall, edited by Stegner's son Page, makes for a fine introduction to Stegner's conservation works--other anthologies will have to address his contributions as a historian (e.g., Mormon Country) and as a novelist (e.g., Angle of Repose)--and it should help bring readers to the books in which Stegner elaborated environmental themes, such as Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs and The American West As Living Space. --Gregory McNamee

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