Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The West I Liked Best

#27 -- "Marking the Sparrow's Fall" by Wallace Stegner

As soon as I started reading this, I started loudly complaining that no one had ever tipped me off to Stegner's writing before, since it's right up my street. Which was a lie, of course -- "Angle of Repose" is pretty famous, and my friend Pete recommended Stegner to me a few years ago. I think I just concluded that it was probably boring.

But within the first lines of "Marking," I was saying "yes! That's it!" as he summed up in a few words something I've been struggling to say for years. This is a collection of Stegner's non-fiction writings about the western United States, and as (have I mentioned?) a child of that part of the world, it hit dead-on for me. Whenever I start rhapsodizing about the beauty of Colorado, rest assured Stegner's done it better (ok, usually about Utah).

It's more-or-less divided into three sections -- an appreciation of the West in general, environmentalism and conservation, and a sort-of combination of the two. It's done without overindulgence in sentiment and without preaching. Quite a good writer. I have two more of his books on the stack, and I'll probably get to them before too long.

2 comments:

Kynan Ireadbetweenmarchmadnessandnflpreseason Kelly said...

Your instincts on Angle of Repose are correct. Boring as hell. Interesting bits about frontier America, if a touch maudlin, but the book is muddled with the narrator's totally irrelevant present-day travails.

I've heard Crossing to Safety is better, but I'd be more eager to read his non-fiction.

gsdgsd13 said...

You'd probably really like "Marking" -- a bit repetitive but I think it might tap into something for you (as it did me, and you're more Colorado than I). I went ahead and ordered "Angle," so, shit.