Marking the Sparrow's Fall: Wallace Stegner's American West

Marking the Sparrow's Fall: Wallace Stegner's American West

by Wallace Stegner, Page Stegner
The first collection published since his death in 1993, "Marking the Sparrow's Fall" contains 15 never-before-published essays by Stegner, a little-known novella, and his most powerful and best-known essays on the American West.


The first collection published since his death in 1993, "Marking the Sparrow's Fall" contains 15 never-before-published essays by Stegner, a little-known novella, and his most powerful and best-known essays on the American West.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These 31 classic stories record much of the cultural climate of 20th-century America, its West in particular, constituting, as the NBA and Pulitzer Prize-winning author affectionately notes, not an autobiography, but ``a sort of personal record.'' As combined here, the tales are a window onto a vivid American past that is as focused as a Norman Rockwell painting, although far more astringent and hardly as wholesome. Settings range from Stegner's native Canada to Utah, California and Vermont--all memorable places in the author's life. The stories are not arranged chronologically: Stegner's dark, voyeuristic peek into the lives of women awaiting letters from men serving in WW II gives way to an account of a bloodthirsty boyhood on the hot, flat frontier of a Saskatchewan farm. Best of all is the slicing wit of ``Field Guide to the Western Birds,'' in which a curmudgeon acidly comments on the petulant antics of a would-be virtuoso. Several of the stories have been reshaped and interpolated into such novels as Wolf Willow and The Big Rock Candy Mountain. (Mar.)
Library Journal
A prolific and gifted writer, Wallace Stegner (1909-93) helped shape the literature of the American West. Here Stegner's son Page collects a series of his father's writing, including environmental essays and the "Wilderness Letter," which is often cited as one of the seminal documents of the environmental movement. The essays are grouped into three general sections--autobiographical, ecological, and academic--followed by the novella "Genesis." Though each section's preface gives publication dates where appropriate, individual essays are not dated according to when they were originally written, making it difficult to place them in historical context. All the essays are polished and intelligent compositions. Recommended for all Stegner collections as well as environmental and regional collections.--Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Greensburg, PA
Kirkus Reviews
A greatest-hits package from the late dean of western American letters. Stegner (1912þ1993), already widely respected as a novelist and historian, became a hero of the environmentalist movement with his 1962 "Wilderness Letter," which made a plea to protect public lands in the west. He revisited this theme often while writing magazine pieces with western settings, most of which Stegner himself roundly dismissed as "grocery-buying junk." His son Page Stegner, a historian, has collected representative essays here, a handful of whichþmostly travelogues and op-ed piecesþindeed seem to have been written for a quick boost in disposable income. Most of the others are, however, vintage Stegner, 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 backroads of Utah and Saskatchewan; and wanders through western ghost towns. As he does so, he offers lessons from the past and warnings about the future, writing, for instance, "No western states except those on the Pacific Coast can permanently support large populations"þand this at a time before Nevada, Arizona, or Colorado had yet begun their ongoing population explosions. Readers familiar with Stegner's western oeuvre, especially "The Sound of Mountain Water" and his 1987 lecture series, "The American West as Living Space," will find little substantively new here, although Stegner fils has turned up some less celebrated writings that merit reprinting. For readers who are new to Stegner's environmental work, this is as good an introduction as any.

Product Details

Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.54(h) x 1.22(d)

Meet the Author

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.¿

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 18, 1909
Date of Death:
April 13, 1993
Place of Birth:
Lake Mills, Iowa
Place of Death:
Santa Fe, New Mexico
B.A., University of Utah, 1930; attended University of California, 1932-33; Ph. D., State University of Iowa, 1935

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