All the Little Live Things

All the Little Live Things

by Wallace Stegner

Paperback(Reissue)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140154412
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/1991
Series: Contemporary American Fiction Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 235,303
Product dimensions: 5.07(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Wallace Stegner (1909–1993) was the author of, among other novels, All the Little Live Things (winner of a Commonwealth Club Gold Medal), Angle of Repose (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), and The Spectator Bird (winner of the National Book Award). His nonfiction includes The Sound of Mountain Water, The Uneasy Chair: A Biography of Bernard DeVoto, and Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West. Three of his short stories won O. Henry Prizes, and in 1980 he received the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for his lifetime literary achievements.

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

Education:

B.A., University of Utah, 1930; attended University of California, 1932-33; Ph. D., State University of Iowa, 1935

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All the Little Live Things 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
ehines on LibraryThing 6 months ago
There are a number of good summaries of this book on LT already, so I won't bother with that. Just a few observations . . .I didn't expect to like this book--Stegner always struck me as a bit too finely crafted for my taste, a bit too much of a scenery painter. And there is certainly some of that here, but much more important are the people, their frailties and the historic conflict between the New Deal Left and the New Left of the 60s. A very fine book.
andafiro on LibraryThing 6 months ago
(Adding this to my library now though I read it some time ago--this title just now showed up as a recommendation and I want to confirm that yes, it's a good recommendation. ;-)
sharonk21 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Former literary editor, Joseph Allston, instantly falls in love with a young woman who moves to the San Francisco-area rural retreat to which he and his wife, Ruth, have retired. Haunted by his inadequacy as a father to his now-dead son and as a son to his long-dead and self-abnegating mother, Joe falls in love with Marian on the spot--in the sense that one falls in love with one¿s child upon its birth. She becomes, both for Joe and for Ruth, the daughter they never had.For Joe, the impact is profound. Marian¿s lightness of being and deepness of soul is the antithesis of Joseph Allston¿s curmudgeonly and oddly nihilist persona. Just as she challenges his world view, she simultaneously provides an antidote to his poisoned existence. His nihilism is the product of a late-in-life review of what his own life has produced. By the time the story is told, Joe¿s personality and character have become those of a contemplative 1960¿s conservative aghast at the excesses of the young of the era. Much of Joe¿s development into the elder he has become was driven by the pointless life and death of his son, who never managed to get on track and who died in a surfing accident three years earlier. At the same time, Joe¿s worst memories of his relationship with his son are reawakened by the bearded Jim Peck, a motorcycle-riding, non-bathing student at counterculture Berkeley who is in full flight to become the opposite of his own father, a Chicago meat-packer. Peck arrives in Allston¿s haven and outrageously asks if he can camp for free on a bit of Allston¿s land (he is currently sleeping in university auditoriums). Much against his better judgment, and at the silent behest of Ruth, who remembers with grief and love her own errant son¿s life and death, Joe gives Peck his churlish permission to camp on a spit of land just out of their everyday view.Thoroughly caught up in the lives of the pregnant and frail Marian, her ecologist husband, and her small daughter, Joe and Ruth do not confront the offenses of Jim Peck against their hospitality. Peck steals their water and electricity. He turns his spit of land into a meeting place and finally a school for his counterculture followers. He furnishes the place with a tree house, a tent, a deck, and a mail box. Peck seduces the local teens, the sons and daughters of the Allston¿s friends and neighbors. In short, Jim Peck behaves as if he were the owner of the land and as if he were there for the duration.Shortly after meeting Marian, Joe and Ruth discover that not only is she pregnant, but also she is in remission from breast cancer. Everyone, including her husband, but particularly Joe and Ruth, try to live as if there is no question of the cancer returning. The two families develop a parent-child relationship in the few short months they live as neighbors.In the summer, a visit to her oncologist in San Francisco reveals the truth: the cancer has returned and it is likely to be quickly fatal. Joe, frantic at the idea of her refusing treatment so she will have a better chance of delivering her child, wavers between begging her husband to make her get treatment and trying to accept her own wishes and the idea that he is going to lose her so quickly after finding her. Within a couple of months, as they prepare to take her for her final trip to the hospital, so she can be given pain medication while she dies, an accident brings the whole situation with Jim Peck to a flashpoint.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is one my favorite Stegner books and Stegner is one of my favorite authors. Part of this novel is a thinly disguised retelling of Stegner's moral fight with Ken Kesey, who dropped out of Stegner's writing seminar. Part of it is the self-righteousness of the narrator, who loses his moral superiority at a raucus party, but who manages to cling to shreds of it, and part of it is pure theodicy...why do bad things happen to good people. It is tragic. And it is wonderful.
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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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