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.


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.