Wallace Stegner: A Biography

Overview

Drawing on nearly ten years of research and unlimited access to Stegner's letters and personal files, Benson traces the trajectory of Wallace Stegner's life from his birth on his grandfather's Iowa farm, his frontier childhood on the lonely prairie homestead in Saskatchewan, and his teenage years among Salt Lake City's Mormons up through his prominence as an award-winning writer, critic, historian, environmental activist, and teacher. Stegner founded Stanford University's legendary Creative Writing Program, where...
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PAPERBACK New 0140247963 Never Read-may have light shelf or handling wear-has a price sticker or price written inside front or back cover-publishers mark-Good Copy-I ship FAST ... with FREE tracking! ! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Drawing on nearly ten years of research and unlimited access to Stegner's letters and personal files, Benson traces the trajectory of Wallace Stegner's life from his birth on his grandfather's Iowa farm, his frontier childhood on the lonely prairie homestead in Saskatchewan, and his teenage years among Salt Lake City's Mormons up through his prominence as an award-winning writer, critic, historian, environmental activist, and teacher. Stegner founded Stanford University's legendary Creative Writing Program, where his students included such budding writers as Larry McMurtry, Ken Kesey, Wendell Berry, Robert Stone, Raymond Carver, Evan Connell, and Tillie Olsen. But Benson's book is as much a consideration of Stegner's own literary legacy as it is a blow-by-blow retelling of his life. Providing a critical reassessment of the entire body of Stegner's work, Benson argues convincingly for his subject's place in the literary canon - and not merely as a "regional" Western writer, but quite simply as one of the great writers of twentieth-century American letters, whose books can stand comfortably on the shelf beside the work of Hemingway, Faulkner, and Steinbeck.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When he was in his late 50s, Stegner (1909-1993) described himself, through a fictional character, as "a tea bag left too long in the cup," but he lived into his 80s, dying in an auto accident in 1993. In his middle years three of his finest novels, Angle of Repose, The Spectator Bird and Crossing to Safety, were yet to come. Always associated with university writing programs, notably at Stanford, his was not a career from which it is easy to mine urgent biographical narrative. Yet Benson (The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer) makes the most of Stegner's stark Saskatchewan childhood and felonious father, both of which later energized the ambitious epic Big Rock Candy Mountain (1943). Stegner's disappointment at his often tepid critical reception is a continuing motif. Asked by students what a Pulitzer Prize (which he would win in 1972) would mean to him, he scoffed: "I'd drink a better brand of bourbon." Yet he confided to a colleague that he had given up short fiction because "you can't have a major reputation on the short story." All of Stegner's considerable output, including histories, biographies and essays, evince a sensitivity for moral verities and the threatened land. Benson's admiring biography, begun with Stegner's cooperation, still reads disconcertingly in places as if his subject were alive. Still, the biography will help to solidify Stegner's place in the literature of his time. Illustrations not seen by PW. Author tour. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Wallace Stegner (1909-93) was a prolific writer of history (The Gathering of Zion, LJ 2/15/75; Univ. of Nebraska, 1992. reprint), biography (Ansel Adams, Bulfinch, 1988), novels (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose, LJ 4/1/71; Penguin, 1992. reprint); short fiction; and essays. Benson (American literature, San Diego State Univ.), the biographer of Steinbeck (The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer, Penguin, 1990. reprint), has written with admiration and fairness this first full-scale study of Stegner's life and accomplishments. Benson's thorough research included a study of Stegner's private papers and extensive interviews with Stegner and his wife, Mary. Benson does not touch on every detail; we learn, for example, almost nothing about Stegner's relationship with his son. But this is generally a good study of Stegner's personal life, describing his youth in Saskatchewan and Salt Lake City; his career as a teacher, including the founding of the Stanford University Writing Program; and his development as a writer, with extensive, cogent analyses of his work and his involvement with the conservation movement. Highly recommended, particularly for academic and public libraries in the West.Judy Mimken, Boise P.L., Id.
From Barnes & Noble
In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) emerged as a great contemporary writer of the American West whose impressive body of work included the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose and the best-selling Crossing to Safety as well as works of history, biography, and essays that spoke of the American experience. Drawing on nearly ten years of research and unlimited access to Stegner's letters and personal files, Benson traces Stegner's life from his birth on his grandfather's Iowa farm, his frontier childhood on the prairie in Saskatchewan, and his teenage years among Salt Lake City's Mormons, through his prominence as an award-winning writer, critic, historian, and teacher at Stanford University's Creative Writing Program, which Stegner founded. This reassessment of Stegner's life and work offers a close look at one of the great American writers of this century, many say worthy of the status of Hemingway, Faulkner, and Steinbeck.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140247961
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/1/1997
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 1.22 (d)

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