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All the Little Live Things

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Overview

Joe Allston, the retired literary agent of Stegner's National Book Award-winning novel, The Spectator Bird, returns in this disquieting and keenly observed novel. Scarred by the senseless death of their son and baffled by the engulfing chaos of the 1960s, Allston and his wife, Ruth, have left the coast for a California retreat. And although their new home looks like Eden, it also has serpents: Jim Peck, a messianic exponent of drugs, yoga, and sex; and Marian Catlin, an attractive young woman whose otherworldly ...

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All the Little Live Things

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Overview

Joe Allston, the retired literary agent of Stegner's National Book Award-winning novel, The Spectator Bird, returns in this disquieting and keenly observed novel. Scarred by the senseless death of their son and baffled by the engulfing chaos of the 1960s, Allston and his wife, Ruth, have left the coast for a California retreat. And although their new home looks like Eden, it also has serpents: Jim Peck, a messianic exponent of drugs, yoga, and sex; and Marian Catlin, an attractive young woman whose otherworldly innocence is far more appealing—and far more dangerous.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
**** Reprint of the Viking edition of 1967 (which is recommended by BCL3). Still not printed on acid-free paper. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140154412
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/1991
  • Series: Contemporary American Fiction Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 386,847
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.88 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Wallace Stegner
Taking the American frontier – both physical and psychological – as his subject, Wallace Stegner created a body of work that stretches from prizewinning novels and short stories to historical and political nonfiction. Taking both human experience and natural beauty as his muses, Stegner embodied what he called the “western character.”

Biography

Wallace Stegner was born in 1909 in Lake Mills, Iowa. The son of Scandinavian immigrants, he traveled with his parents and brother all over the West-to North Dakota, Washington, Saskatchewan, Montana, and Wyoming-before settling in Salt Lake City in 1921. Many of the landscapes he encountered in his peripatetic youth figure largely in his work, as do characters based on his stern father and athletic, outgoing brother. Stegner received most of his education in Utah, graduating from the University in 1930. He furthered his education at the University of Iowa, where he received a master's and a doctoral degree. He married Mary Stuart Page in 1934, and for the next decade the couple followed Wallace's teaching career-to the University of Wisconsin, Harvard, and eventually to Stanford University, where he founded the creative writing program, and where he was to remain until his retirement in 1971. A number of his creative writing students have become some of today's most well respected writers, including Wendell Berry, Thomas McGuane, Raymond Carver, Edward Abbey, Robert Stone, and Larry McMurty.

Throughout his career and after, Stegner's literary output was tremendous. His first novel, Remembering Laughter, was published in 1937. By the time of his death in 1993 he had published some two dozen works of fiction, history, biography, and essays. Among his many literary prizes are the Pulitzer Prize for Angle of Repose (1971) and the National Book Award for The Spectator Bird (1976). His collection of essays, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs (1992), was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award.

Although his fiction deals with many universal themes, Stegner is primarily recognized as a writer of the American West. Much of his literature deals with debunking myths of the West as a romantic country of heroes on horseback, and his passion for the terrain and its inhabitants have earned him the title "The Dean of Western Letters." He was one of the few true Men of Letters in this generation. An historian, essayist, short story writer and novelist, as well as a leading environmental writer. Although always connected in people's minds with the West, he had a long association with New England. Many short stories and one of his most successful novels, Crossing to Safety, are set in Vermont, where he had a summer home for many years. Another novel, The Spectator Bird, takes place in Denmark.

An early environmentalist, he actively championed the region's preservation and was instrumental-with his now-famous 'Wilderness Letter'-in the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. Honest and straightforward, educated yet unpretentious, cantankerous yet compassionate, Wallace Stegner was an enormous presence in the American literary landscape, a man who wrote and lived with ferocity, energy, and integrity.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Wallace Earle Stegner (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 18, 1909
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lake Mills, Iowa
    1. Date of Death:
      April 13, 1993
    2. Place of Death:
      Santa Fe, New Mexico

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2002

    A Must Read

    This is absolutely the best book I have ever read. I can't write any more on it because anything I have to say cannot do it justice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2013

    Amazing book.

    This book is so humorous, haunting, and lovely in its portayal of an older man faced with loss and societal changes during the turbulent Sixties. It presents a deeply touching story of the older man being forced to reconcile his failures while maintaing his humanity. The social commentary on the times that is the backdrop of the story is very pointed and funny. The story is unforgettable and one of my favorites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2004

    The Best Stegner Yet...and that means something

    I can't say yet that I read all of Wallace Stegnar's books (I'm working on it) but I have read his prize winners: Angles of Repose, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, Crossing to Safety, and The Spectator Bird (in that order), plus a couple of others. For this one--a prequel to The Spectator Bird--Stegnar gets my personal prize! He simply outdoes himself. Its the late 1960s just south of the Bay Area. The narrator is a retired book editor look for tranquility after the death of his 30+ year old son who died while surfing, his apparent profession being a beach bu--at least so his dad tells us. With the arrival next door of (1) a live-off-the lander who reminds his wife of their son, and (2) an interesting, itelligent young woman who he is they way he would have wanted the daughter he never had, the narrator's life gets complicated, less tranquil, but also quite interesting. It is the story of the coming out of a curmudgeon. Steger's ability to describe nature is never better, despite the suburban setting. This vies with Annie Proulx's The Shipping News as my favorite book that I've read to date.

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    Posted July 12, 2009

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    Posted January 23, 2011

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