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Angle of Repose
by Wallace Stegner


To:                ALL                   Date:    12/02
From:   FAVB99B    JANE NIEMEIER         Time:    11:05 PM

ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner                          
Has anyone done any extra credit reading on the author?  I  
would appreciate any background information before we start 
our official discussion.  The narrrator of this story is in 
a wheelchair, and a friend told me that the main character  
in another of his books is in a wheelchair.  Was Stegner    
himself confined to a wheelchai?.  So far the book reminds  
me of my parents' lives because my dad was an engineer who  
traveled from job to job.   Jane, the traveling fool, in    
Colorado.                                                   


===============   Reply    1 of Note   12 =================

 
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/03 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 8:56 AM greetings...WALLACE STEGNER....i would like to participate by bringing some biography information to all CR's .. WS, the novelist whose sense of the land and the rootlessness of the West filled his books as well as his life, has died in Santa Fe, N.M., of injuries suffered in a car accident. He was 84. WS,who lived in LOS ALTOS HILLS, CALIF., was injured March 28 while in Santa Fe to deliver a speech and died Tuesday night at ST. Vincent Hospital there. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for 'Angle of Repose" in 1972 and a NATIONAL BOOK AWARD for 'THE SPECTATOR BIRD'' IN 1977, WS founded the creative writing program at Stanford University AND RAN it for more than twenty years. That program included such students as KEN KESEY, LARRY MCMURTRY, TILLIE OLSEN, ERNEST GAINES anD JAMES HOUSTON. WS stopped teaching in 1970 to devote his full time to writing.. In 1980 , the author received the first Robert Kirsch Award from the LOS ANGELES TIMES for the body of his work. Last year, he was selected for a NATIONAL MEDAL OF ARTS award from the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT for the ARTS, which was to be presented at the WHITE HOUSE by then-PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH. WS rejected the medal,however, in protest of 'political controls' exhibited by the agency when it refused to subsidize two art exhibits that displayed genitals. WS always considered himself an outsider--a farm boy whose family tried to grow wheat on the explosed plains of SASKATCHEWAN, a non-Mormon schooled in Utah, and an unsettled youth whose family moved from Iowa, where he was born on feb. 18, 1909, to NORTH DAKOTA; SEATTLE; GREAT FALLS, MONTANA; SASKATCHEWAN, and SALT LAKE CITY by the time he finished high school. His first big success, 'THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN' published in 1943, concerned an itinerant family much like his own. After graduating from the University of Utah in 1930, WS earned his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of IOWA, where he also met and married fellow graduate student MARY STUART PAGE in 1934. Stegner taught at Harvard and the universitites of WISOCNSIN and UTAH before going to STANFORD in 1945. tbc...to be continued gail..a passionate reader ..... =============== Reply 2 of Note 12 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/03 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 10:41 AM Jane: I'm curious, too, about the recurrence of wheelchairs in Stegner's work. In his CROSSING TO SAFETY, which was said to be largely autobiographical, the character of "Stegner's" wife uses a wheelchair--from polio, I think. I read an article once in which a family friend said it was always interesting to be at a party with the Stegners and see someone introduced to them who'd only known him through his novels, and then to watch their clear puzzlement at seeing that his wife was not disabled, as they'd assumed. I've never used a wheelchair, but from an outsider's perspective he certainly makes the experience real, I think. I've not been able to turn up any literal connection of disability to Stegner's real life, but I'm hoping someone out there can enlighten us if there is one. CROSSING TO SAFETY, by the way, is on my top-10 list of favorite novels. I'm sure most couples have had the experience at least once of bonding so immediately, and so totally, with new friends that it's almost the equivalent of falling in love, couple-wise. But the deeper you get into the new friends' lives, the more you see that their vibrant personalities and "perfect" relationship actually conceal deep emotional flaws, as we all have. Stegner deals with this process brilliantly in CROSSING TO SAFETY, with great humor and insight, and some unforgettable characters. Highly recommended. >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 3 of Note 12 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 12/03 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:51 PM gail and Dale (This could be the name of a comedy duo), I must get CROSSING TO SAFETY over Winter Break since you both have recommended it. But when will I read it? You have all been such a bad influence on my compulsive book buying habit. Actually, I love going downstairs and gazing at my stacks of unread books. So much to look forward to. Thank you all so much. Love ya', Jane in warm and sunny Colorado =============== Reply 4 of Note 12 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/05 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 12:38 PM Jane & All: Here's an L.A. Times article (in 3 notes) that includes some interesting comments from other fiction writers about Stegner's work.*** Friends, students and admirers remember Wallace Stegner as a chronicler who brought realism and dignity to regional writing By Bob Sipchen, Times staff writer "There's this image of the Wild West as the home of rugged individualists, lonely grizzled souls who got no need for no one or no dang thing." Wallace Stegner's death Tuesday night, though, gives that myth perspective. Across the United States, phones rang with word that the writer, teacher and historian had died in Santa Fe, from complications suffered in a March 28 traffic accident. Stegner, 84, has been widely eulogized since, praised for his more than two dozen books that included the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Angle of Repose," and "The Spectator Bird," which won a National Book Award in 1977. Many also noted that he founded the creative writing program at Stanford University, and that a number of his students went on to achieve more literary celebrity than their mentor--Ken Kesey, Larry McMurtry, Tillie Olsen and Robert Stone. But it isn't just the unusually tight-knit community of students who took notice of "Wally's" passing. A loosely knit network of friends, professional acquaintances, mere professional admirers--some now doing the most to interpret, redefine and protect the West--pondered the loss. Ivan Doig, author of numerous books about the Pacific Northwest including "This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind," says "there's a broader rainbow of work from Stegner almost than was imaginable. He wrote short stories, novels essays, history, biography, and a magical book we can't even classify--'Wolf Willow.' "There's an entire body of literature from this one homestead kid. That seems to me one of the literary miracles of all American history." Others were equally effusive: *Novelist Robert Stone, one of Stegner's more celebrated Stanford students, says that his mentor's influence as a writer and teacher extended well beyond his academic sphere. Stegner's writing "reflected the changing of the West, the changing of California from the '50s, when he was first out on the West Coast, to the '90s. He was a really good recorder of all that. No one did that better. He was not an eccentric stylist at all, but his writing was tremendously sound and clear and good. "His work was very like him. It shows a real sense of decency. He really was a kind of mentor and parent to a whole lot of us." *Novelist and teacher William Kittredge says that "once I got it in my head that I wanted to write, Stegner was one of few models I had." Kittredge, whose "The Last Best Place" anthologizes the vast writing wealth that has come out of Montana, says Stegner "gave us all heart. His work showed reverence for the kind of place we grew up." Before Stegner, he adds, writing about the West, painting about the West and Western movies "all told the same kind of cowboy and Indian shootout story, the story of white men conquering the West, taking it over and making it their own possession. That was a mythological view, and to many of us who grew up here, sort of nonsensical. "Stegner showed us that there were other stories to tell. We all knew that. But he made it valid to make art out of life in rural Montana." (Continued in next note) =============== Reply 5 of Note 12 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/05 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 12:39 PM STEGNER ARTICLE / Cont.*** Author Annie Dillard calls Stegner a wonderful writer. Dillard, whose "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" won a Pulitzer Prize and whose novel "The Living" was a best seller last year, says Stegner "showed what could be done with Western history. He took 19th-Century West Coast history seriously. That meant a lot to me." She was particularly impressed with Stegner's novel "Angle of Repose." "He had very few characters, very little incident, and what he did was go over it, making it deeper and deeper and deeper, dealing with the woman (his main character) again and again and again until she had a mythological stature. She became figural." *Annick Smith, a writer and filmmaker, says Stegner's reshaping of the Western myth helped make possible the telling of "an honest story about women in the West" in the film "Heartland," for which she served as executive producer. Smith, who co-produced the film "A River Runs Through It" and co-edited the anthology "The Last Best Place," says that Stegner "showed that it was possible not just to tell stories about "sturdy pioneer women and prostitutes with hearts of gold, but stories about women with specific lives and specific goals who did things that changed the country." *James Welch, a Blackfeet Indian and author of "Fools Crow" and "Indian Lawyer," appreciates Stegner's portrayal of the West's original inhabitants: "He created a new image of the contemporary West, complete with its problems, that was different from the romantic, Westward expansion version of Indians. "He got people involved in stories about this new West. His writing was very conscious of its social issues. But he combined everything to tell terrific stories. When you're a great writer, like Wallace was, the story transcends the message in a sense." *Barry Lopez says Stegner "wrote me letters about my work that made my hair stand on end." Lopez, author of the award-winning "Arctic Dreams," and "Crow and Weasel," a children's book that Robert Redford has developed for the stage, says Stegner "was the only man whose compliments made me feel I had to do more. A compliment from him meant more than just a slap on the back. It meant: 'Good work and you'd better keep working...' "For writers like me who never took a class with him, he taught us how to behave. He encouraged us to think hard about our responsibilities--not just to language, or, God forbid, to the literary community. But to the larger community." Stegner's commitment to public citizenship, Lopez believes, may prove the most important part of his multifaceted legacy: "He had an effect we cannot possibly know on land policy. He was sought out by presidents, governors, and secretaries of the interior for probably 40 years." (Concluded in next note) =============== Reply 6 of Note 12 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/05 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 12:40 PM STEGNER ARTICLE, Concl.*** Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt was acquainted with Stegner and remains an ardent admirer. He says that he'd hoped to meet with Stegner this spring to discuss Babbitt's plan for a new U.S. Biological Survey (based on the Geological Survey). "Stegner's 'Beyond the 100th Meridian' touched my life most deeply," Babbitt recalls. "I read it in college and it opened me up to a whole new view of the West. I grew up in the West of rugged individualism that was steeped in a sort of distrust of the federal government. "What he taught me with that book was to understand the love-hate relationship between Westerners and the federal government... We in the West would never have made it without this relationship. We would have ruined everything. Now that I'm on the other side, I see the historical tension in that love-hate relationship. That's very important." *Poet, novelist, essayist and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry studied in Stegner's Stanford program in 1958. "When I first met Wally, I assumed that I would probably spend my life in some city, probably at a university, far away from my native place," Berry remembers. "But as it happened, I later decided to return to my own part of the world to live. I became a consciously regional writer, a writer who would write about one place. "At that point he became more to me than simply teacher and writer, but an example, because he is really the best example I know of a writer devoted to his region." *Essayist Gretel Ehrlich, author of the critically acclaimed "Solace of Empty Places," arrived home Wednesday evening and found five phone messages about Stegner's death from far-flung points. "That's one of the unusual things about writers who work out of theWest--and it has a lot to do with Stegner--there's a kind of bond we have," she says. "He's given us a sense that we belong to this unique and difficult place, and that our common residence here gives us a way of connecting to each other that a lot of writers lack." (Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times, 1993.) =============== Reply 7 of Note 12 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 12/05 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 6:30 PM Dale and gail, Thanks for all this info. On top of being incredibly behind for Christmas, at work, etc., I'm trying to read PORTRAIT OF A LADY for Classics Corner. However, will be starting on ANGLE OF REPOSE right after that. Hope the discussion will still be going on then. And I want to read THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING after that for CC too. Is it possible that once, long ago, pre-cyber awareness, I desperately looked for good books that I wanted to read next?!? Barb =============== Reply 8 of Note 12 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 12/05 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 7:05 PM Barbara: Good to hear from you! If the length/richness of ANGLE OF REPOSE is any indication...I've made only minor inroads into reading it, myself...I'd suspect that this thread will still be going strong into 1996. >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 9 of Note 12 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 12/05 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 10:33 PM greetings...WALLACE STEGNER..... Pulitzer prize-wining author WS spent only six of his 84 years on the CANADIAN PRAIRIE, and never thought of himself as anything other than American. But those few Saskatchewan Years, he always said, formed his entire philosophy, literary output and teaching... WS in turn exerted a notable influence on a succeeding generation of writers...When he died late last month..he name had long occupied an honoured place among the literati of western Canada... The international border, the'medicine line,' was entirely unimportant in the West that Stegner celebrated... FIVE year old WALLACE, his mother and his elder brother Cecil came to CANADA in 1914 tojoin his father ona homestead on the WHITEMUD River in the CYPRESS HILLS COUNTRY of southern SASKATCHE WAN.. T he last 60 miles were by stagecoach from the CPR main line at GULL LAKE, the future author sitting on the lap of one BUCK MURPHY, an amiable Montana cowpuncher 'with a painful deference to ladies and a great affection for little children;'...The homestead where the STEGNERs struggled against drought was so close to the line that 'our ploughshares bit into Montana sod every time we made the turn at the south end of the field' and young WALLACE 'trapped SASKATCHENWAN and MONTANA flickertails indiscrimiantely.' ALBERTA REPORT/WESTERN REPORT, may 3, 1993....DEATH OF A DEFINITIVE WESTERN WRITER... =============== Reply 10 of Note 12 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 12/05 From: NMTT86A JAMES HEATH Time: 11:21 PM Dale: I heard a Stegner talk on Public Radio, and he said that the characters in CROSSING TO SAFETY were drawn from life. In fact, people who knew them identified them immediately. Kind of scary when you think about the characters. --Jim in Oregon =============== Reply 11 of Note 12 =================  
To: NMTT86A JAMES HEATH Date: 12/06 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 8:55 AM Jim: I wish I could have heard Stegner talking about CROSSING TO SAFETY on NPR. Their book interviewers do a really good job, I think. The character of "Charity"--a wonderfully ironic choice of name, huh?--is one of the most memorable in my reading, period. I see her characteristics in so many acquaintances of mine--intelligent, loyal, sweet, well-meaning people who nonetheless are unyielding perfectionists and therefore emotional bulldozers who know the one correct way the world should go and won't compromise for a minute--but Charity is clearly the finest flowering of the breed. Want to hear something even scarier than the fact that she's based on a real person? My sister-in-law the English prof, who first put me onto the book, sent me an article in which the interviewer talked to the children of the "actual" Charity--who had long since died--and got their thoughts on how their mother was portrayed in the novel. "Actually," the daughter told him, "I think Wally toned her down, a good bit." Now, THAT's scary. >>Dale, ever dodging emotional bulldozers in Ala. =============== Reply 12 of Note 12 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/06 From: ZGPG28A CARLA GLADSTONE Time: 10:02 PM "Angle of Repose" and Echoes.....I begin with a reference to one of my own patron saints: Ogden Nash. In "Let's not climb the Washington Monument tonight," he wrote these words: "Middle age is when you've met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else." "Angle of Repose" was a new book, and Stegner a new author, to me when I began reading AOR two weeks ago, but it has made me feel very middle-aged, at least with respect to books. The more I read, the more I heard echoes of other books: Echo 1. The "USA: trilogy by John Dos Passos, which is set later in history (1st World War) but contains many backward looks. It also contains two young ladies with artistic leanings and an intense friendship that turns out to be brittle. But when I went back to Dos Passos to verify the similarities, they were out weighed by the differences. Moreover other echoes were sounding. Echo 2 "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck. EOE is another fictional family history with most of the action in turn-of-century California. Both Steinbeck and Stegner had to play tricks with the narration: they each wanted the narrator to have a distinctive voice, rather than being omniscient and detached, but both of them needed to employ artistic license because the narrator isn't present for most of the action. Stegner invented a narrator, Lyman Ward, and presented the action as the unfolding of Ward's research and experience. Steinbeck took the much more risky approach of making himself the narrator and taking part of the novel from his own historical family. We can discuss their relative success in their different story-telling technique in later notes. I will end this one with my third echo: Echo 3. "The Great Bridge, The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge" by David McCullough. It's not a novel, I admit, but a more juicy tale of 19th C engineering, corruption, and fascinating characters is hard to come by in any work of fact or fiction. Besides, in both GB and AOR, the Beecher family and Henry Ward Beecher have important, if off-stage roles Did anyone else hear echoes? I'd like to know what they were. Carla (of the Nation's Capital) =============== Reply 13 of Note 12 =================  
To: ZGPG28A CARLA GLADSTONE Date: 12/06 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:50 PM Carla, That is a very interesting note. The echo I am hearing right now is that my education in American Literature is somewhat lacking. Although I have read a number of Steinbeck novels, I have never read anything by Dos Passos. I must remedy this situation soon because I keep reading what an influence he has been on younger authors. Jane who is now in Mexico with the Ward family. =============== Reply 14 of Note 12 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 12/06 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:54 PM chere petite gail, Thanks for the information on Stegner. This is another person that I wish I had talked to. What a fascinating man (much more fascinating than most of those people on Barbara Walter's show last night - No, I didn't watch the whole thing, but I read the names in the newspaper - I suppose DJP might find Courtney Love fascinating, but not I)! Jane who is ready for a vacation. =============== Reply 15 of Note 12 =================  
To: ZGPG28A CARLA GLADSTONE Date: 12/06 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 11:09 PM greetings CARLA... what a thoughtprovoking post...kindly don't make yourself scarce...your analogies or echoes...etc..will probably keep me up all night....excellent... gail..a passionate reader in foggy san francisco holding at 60 degrees... =============== Reply 16 of Note 12 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 12/07 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 1:36 AM I was reminded of a book I had read about Western oddities - people and events that seemed wildly out of place but were actually there. I wish I could remember the name of the thing; it included a picture of Custer with a Russian prince he squired around on a shoot in which they both scared the more prudent silly. The Stegner-like character was a French nobleman who tried to set up a meat packing business out there - something that was later very successful - but was eventually frozen out. He once nearly challenged Theodore Roosevelt, who was glad to keep clear of him. The West did attract - and break - a number of brilliant, inventive young minds. Cathy =============== Reply 2 of Note 6 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/08 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 8:15 AM I've still not turned up any direct reason for Stegner's preoccupation with wheelchairs, but anyone wanting insight into his early life should read the brief remembrance of his mother called "Letter, Much Too Late" in his last essay collection WHERE THE BLUEBIRD SINGS TO THE LEMONADE SPRINGS. Breathtaking, and heartbreaking too. Apparently in 1989 an editor at Doubleday asked 20 leading writers to contribute a piece on their family lives for a book called FAMILY PORTRAITS [Talk about stepping into a minefield...], of which this was one. Absolutely brilliant, and well worth tracking down. I'll be glad to send a photocopy to anybody who can't locate WHERE THE BLUEBIRD SINGS. >>Dale in Ala.

 

Stegner
Wallace Stegner

 
I loved this book -- of all the gems I've found here, it's by far my favorite. Stegner's prose is beautful.
Peggy
 
He writes with such a remarkable degree of clarity, both visually and verbally, that to read him is to be transported to the very time and place he describes.
Dick Haggart
 
...the deeper you get into the new friends' lives, the more you see that their vibrant personalities and "perfect" relationship actually conceal deep emotional flaws, as we all have. Stegner deals with this process brilliantly in CROSSING TO SAFETY, with great humor and insight, and some unforgettable characters. Highly recommended.
Dale in Ala.


===============   Reply    3 of Note    6 =================

 
To: ZGPG28A CARLA GLADSTONE Date: 12/09 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 0:15 AM Carla, thanks very much for the post; those echoes of other books are just the thing I like to see here, because no two people will be reminded of the same thing, and we can never tell what interesting directions they may take us in. I was also briefly reminded of THE GREAT BRIDGE, also a favorite of mine, but only because of the Henry Ward Beecher connection. I guess that's the only place I've read about the man in any detail. The echoes I was hearing were not from other books, but from my own family's history, or lack of it. I found that I consistently pictured the house where Lyman Ward was living as a variation on my late grandfather's house here on the Cape, where my dad grew up and also where I spent much time when I was young. By default, that's my iconic image of an old family homestead, and as I read I only altered it to fit specific details Stegner described. What I meant by a lack of family history is that I have no ancestors whose lives are recorded in anything like the detail of Susan Burling Ward, and I very much wish I did. It would be fascinating to have that wealth of data avail- able to delve into and reconstruct the life of one's pre- decessors, and Stegner's device of having his narrator tell the story like that was one of many things that kept my attention riveted as I read. As it is, however, names such as Ebenezer, Theophlus and Zaccheus Crocker are just labels on a family tree -- apart from dates of birth and death, the stories of their lives are lost to us. (All right, so by and large the details would have been pretty dull and not worth recording, but no matter, I can't help feeling that loss. In a prefatory note to the book Stenger thanks "J.M. and her sister for the loan of their ancestors." According to the OXFORD COMPANION TO AMERICAN LITERATURE, the real-life counterpart of Susan Ward was a woman by the name of Mary Hallock Foote. (Perhaps our local artist and art teacher, Ruth Bavetta, can tell us more about her.) As I read I often wondered how much of what I was reading was lifted directly from this real woman's life. Her letters, for example -- do you think these may have been to a great extent verbatim, or did WS construct them from the facts and writing style he found in his source material? I would tend to think the latter is more likely, but it's something I'd certainly like to know more about. On the whole, AOR had very much a non-fiction feel for me; I was usually only aware that Stegner/Ward was invent- ing, or extrapolating scenes when he specifically reminds us that he's doing so. Since he was free to fill in the gaps like this, the result was a more complete portrait of this woman's life, and of life in the West at that time, than would have been possible in a purely biographical treatment. I'm close to using up my space in this note, but I'll have more to say in replies to other posts in this thread. Thanks again, Carla, for getting the discussion of the novel itself under way; hope you'll be contributing any other thoughts as they occur to you as the discussion unfolds. allen =============== Reply 4 of Note 6 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 12/09 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 0:17 AM Dale and gail -- thanks for the background info on Stegner, and thanks also to Jane for getting the thread started. Here are a few thoughts about some points that have come up in previous notes: I also wondered whether Stegner might have been confined in a wheelchair; now that I know this wasn't so I can only remark that he certainly took pains to find out what the experience of being afflicted as Lyman Ward is would be like. It was so vividly and specifically described that it's only natural to assume that it might have been from first-hand. The Annie Dillard comment about AOR having "very few characters, very little incident" is something that struck me as well. What holds one's interest (or held mine, at least) is the development of the character of Susan Ward. Since she's closely based on a real person, it's no sur- prise that her life seems so substantial. Add to this WS's terrific realization of the Western settings (Susan's descent into the mine and the arduous trip from Fairplay to Leadville come to mind) and you have a novel that can do without a conventional plot. It matters little that we know well ahead of time that Agnes will die or that Oliver's irrigation plan will fail; what keeps you turning the pages is Lyman Ward's gradual discovery of the truths of his grandmother's life. Mere action, added to the feast that WS has laid out for us, would be superfluous. Knowing nothing about Stegner before reading AOR, it was news to me that he's considered a "regional" writer. This reminded me of something Hemingway once said or wrote. I can't recall where I saw this, or even what his exact words were, but he had a fine contempt for the "regional" label. Either you're a writer or you aren't, he thought; to think of one's self as regional was to settle for something lesser, something limited. Leaving aside the specific merits of Hemingway's stance, it strikes me that "regional" is an adjective with connotations that can easily mislead; it brings to mind a writer whose work is likely to be of little interest outside a given geographical area -- rather a "second-stringer," if you will. Fair or not, it's a very easy conclusion to jump to. Although I suppose that WS's work may resonate especially powerfully with Westerners, he has much to offer to all serious readers. He's a writer, plain and simple; no qualifying adjective, however accurate, is necessary. As I noted elsewhere in this thread, Susan's real-life model was a woman named Mary Hallock Foote, about whom I'd like very much to know more. Presumably she was a well- known illustrator at the time of the story, so I hope that one of our correspondents can hunt down some info for us. I'm also wondering who Thomas Hudson, who in AOR is the foremost literary editor in the country and the friend of a U.S. president, was patterned after. I find it inter- esting to consider that if I'd seen a biography of Foote in a bookstore before reading AOR I'd probably not have given it a second glance, but now I'm eager to know all about her. Thus the power of historical fiction, which has often been remarked upon in these parts. Well, there's much more potential for discussion than I can mention here, and I'm sure this thread will bring a good deal of it out. I'll be back with you soon, comrades... Allen =============== Reply 5 of Note 6 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 12/09 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 0:17 AM NEXT UP: OCTOBER LIGHT by John Gardner, nominated by Joe Barreiro. If you wish to follow along, please be ready to talk about it in three weeks or so. Please note that Stegner's CROSSING TO SAFETY is also on the reading list, and we'll be getting to it in due course. Not for a while, though; I don't want to do two books by the same author too close to one another. Allen =============== Reply 6 of Note 6 =================  
To: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Date: 12/09 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 6:46 AM greetings ESTEEMED CONDUCTOR... appreciate you listing the next book...OCTOBER LIGHT...as i must always plan ahead....and obtaining the name of the book keeps me on track...the sooner the better... gail...a passionate reader in thick fog in SAN FRANCISCO.. =============== Reply 8 of Note 6 =================  
To: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Date: 12/09 From: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Time: 11:52 AM Allen, I share your appreciation of the echoes Carla noted, and have quite a few of my own. The two lives with antithetical needs and aspirations met in one marriage is a big subject. I was immediately and repeatedly reminded of THE STONE DIARIES, which we read in the slo-mo group earlier this year. Mercy, in the earlier book, faced the submersion of self in her marriage, and acquiesced. Susan Burling Ward (nowadays she would have kept her own name sans husband's) faced the same dilemma and strove mightily to keep her identity, while still accepting the necessity to not prevent her husband from achieving in his life. The tragedy of their marriage is that the costs of this divergence of aims and interests kills not only a child, but the intimacy and unfettered love they started with. Here, as in THE STONE DIARIES, the narrator supplies events, thoughts and feelings that he cannot know. Lyman is obviously projecting his own marriage onto his grandmother's. Like all historians, he writes from a perspective of his own time and condition. The not-quite-marriage of Shelly echoes both the marriages that consume Lyman. Shelly faces the same choice (in radically different ways) that Susan faces. The book is really like a sort of fugue, in which the major theme is repeated in different voices, Lyman on his own and his grandmother's marriages, and Shelly, again through Lyman, on her dilemma of competing lives. I was also reminded of the story within HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT, in which a girl who finds expression in diving marries a geologist, and faces the sort of compromises Susan fought against. All the above does not touch on the portrait the book paints of the pirates and plunderers who went west to do good-for themselves, that is. I wonder what the modern ecologist would say about the great water project that was Oliver's greatest dream? ANGLE OF REPOSE is so full of good things we could talk about it for a long time. There already have been some very good notes on it, and I'm looking forward to more. On the rapidly chilling Mountain, Felix Miller (http://pages.prodigy.com/TN/mountaineer/ursus.html) 12/9/95 11:49AM ET =============== Reply 9 of Note 6 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 12/09 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:18 PM Felix and all, The more I read this book, the more I am reminded of my parents. My father was an engineer who traveled all around following jobs, and my mother followed him. In fact, he worked on a dam in Boise as well as doing mineral exploration in Mexico. I have recommended this book to him because I am sure he will enjoy the parallels. Jane in chilly Colorado. =============== Reply 10 of Note 6 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/10 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 0:52 AM To those of you REPOSING AT AN ANGLE this month, I read this book abouta year ago. I liked it, but not enough to read over again so soon, especially considering its size. I will enjoy reading your reactions to it, but will probably have little to contribute. I do remember thinking the Shelly and her husband were the most one-dimensional characters. They never became anything more for me than generic 60's people. BTW, how many of you (besides Sara, my fellow geologist) know what an ANGLE OF REPOSE is? It's the angle that's the steepest you can pile up something before it starts to slide down...a term most commonly used in relation to sand dunes. Allen, I'm sorry, but I've never heard of Mary Hallock Foote and she's not in any of my books on women's art. But then, you said she was an illustrator, and my knowledge and book collection is limited to fine art. Ruth, in Redlands, clear and sunny with a high near 80 =============== Reply 11 of Note 6 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 12/10 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 2:07 AM Actually, I don't think it was the difference in aspirations and aims that tore the Wards's marriage apart. Oliver Ward was remarkably (for the period) able and willing to let his wife have her own separate thing and help support them while they traveled. Her help with the support bugged him some, but he was pretty graceful about it overall. What really blew them apart he could have prevented by not rehiring what's-his-face when he knew there was an attraction between the two that could easily explode. Some of the language seemed to imply that he did this to test her and their relationship, a damn fool trick, almost like he was probing a bad tooth. The timing of the thing rather supports this view; she and the kids had just come back from the East when he obtained temporary prosperity after that period of half wild living in that camp where Agnes was born. And his unyielding, unforgiving attitude after the fact was typical of the era when Can You Forgive Her was a common topic, but it was disappointing - a weakness - in that particular character. She obviously lived and continued her work in a quiet torment the rest of her life. The effect of the whole thing on the silent son was really unfortunate; I found myself wondering about HIS marriage. I'm not familiar with Mary Hallock Foote, but I do know that from slightly before the Civil War up to the end of the century a number of women were successful working with children's books and magazines, ladies's magazines, and even sometimes as newspaper columnists. One of Alcott's editors was Mary Mapes Dodge of HANS BRINKER; she was quite successful in the field. A more interesting and controversial lady whose bio I am going to have to relocate was known as Fannie Fern, real name Sarah Willis. One of her brothers was the rather effete man of letters Nathaniel P. Willis and another the Richard Willis who wrote one of the famous Christmas carols. Richard and N.P. were also friends of Katherine Forrest, the wife so spectacularly divorced by unstable actor Edwin Forrest. She, by the way, went West and became a very successful theater manager, since women could do things like that out there. That tale is set out in David Delman's THE BLUESTOCKING, which I would recommend to anyone. He's a grand historian. The Beecher Family is even more interesting than you might get from this book. Harriet, of course, got her ultimate male chauvinist pig husband to agree to her public career by collapsing physically, going to a health farm, and not agreeing to come home until some things were changed around there. She and sister Catherine, who was a women's health and education pioneer, spent a great deal of time pulling down Victoria Woodhull after Woodhull made their brother's affair with Elizabeth Tilton common knowledge. (Interestingly, both Beecher and Theodore Tilton slept with Woodhull, as did "Beast" Ben Butler, who was impelled to use his excellent Constitutional brain on women's issues thereby). Sister Isabell Beecher, another feminist, continued to side with Woodhull and remained friendly with her til her death. She thought Henry was the worst hypocrite left unhunt. - Come to think of it, I don't remember too much about any Beecher brothers except one of them pulling financial strings. Maybe they were all too busy commiting adultery. Cathy =============== Reply 12 of Note 6 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 12/10 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 6:30 PM Cathy and All, I find Lyman Ward to be one of the most interesting characters in the book. I like his dark sense of humor about himself and his realistic view of his grandmother. Most people can't imagine their grandparents as being young once and as having real lives that include sex and other physical yearnings. (I guess my grandparents must have had sex because Grandma had 12 babies). Lyman seems to have sympathy for both of his grandparents. He points out Oliver's stubborness and Susan's propensity to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I know people like that - in fact I am people like that. These characters seem so real. I am not quite finished, but I am enjoying every page. Jane who has one week left before Winter break - Yay!! =============== Reply 13 of Note 6 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/11 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 12:50 PM I have about 200 more pages to go on ANGLE OF REPOSE. I had to put some of my thoughts down soon or I'd forget them. Echoes. Carla, you're right. The echo phenomenon for me was Susan's trip to New Almaden. Stegner described her entrance to this new California landscape with such sharp focus that I felt that I was having a lucid dream. I could smell the sagebrush; I could sense the newness. I moved to the Bay Area of California from the East Coast in the early 70's. During my time there I went to Berkeley and went into the East Bay Hills on a field trip to study the geology and the vegetation of the region. The dry medicinal smells and the feel of the sun came flooding back to me as I read. Once again I could see the lupines and poppies and the red-barked madrone. Once again I experienced the strangeness of being in a dry-summer Mediterranean climate after having grown up in the wet-summer-green east. My idea of green had to change. Green before had been that day-glo new spring green of maple trees. Green in the west is that brown/green stone colored green that at first is disappointing, but as you get used to it gets in your blood. As Susan saw California, I saw it too, new again. Allen already mentioned her trip down the mine. This experience was not an echo (since I have never been in a mine), but was described so well that I felt I was there too, touching rocks and feeling claustrophobic. I could see the imprints the pick made on the surfaces and I could hear the drip of water in the distance. One of the more remarkable aspects of this book is that it does not seem like a fiction. The writer seems like Lyman Ward telling a story. Stegner is totally hidden. When we read Susan's letters the voice is so legitimately a women writing in the late 1800's that I too wonder, like Allen, if Stegner had real letters he was using as a guide. An exquisite piece of writing. Sherry in Milwaukee where it feels like we're inside one of those 0 degree refrigerators with a wind machine running full blast =============== Reply 14 of Note 6 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 12/11 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 3:57 PM Sherry, Talk about an exquisite piece of writing! Your description of the California landscape was wonderful. This is my home, and the smells and sights you described so beautifully went straight to my heart. Sometimes it takes an outsider to describe something that is a part of you. Thank you, Sherry. Ruth =============== Reply 15 of Note 6 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 12/11 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 4:40 PM Dear Ruth, Thanks for the accolades! It does my heart good!! I don't feel exactly like an outsider; I lived in California 15 years and my children were born there. But I started out an outsider and of course now I don't live there anymore...alas. Sherry in Milwaukee who's doing some California dreaming...  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 12/11 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:07 PM Sherry, That was, indeed, a wonderful piece of writing! /(by candle Earlier this evening I felt as if I were Susan Ward, because the power was out, Tom had gone to bed, and I was sitting at the kitchen table reading one of her letters to Augusta. The house was getting colder, and I couldn't see any lights nearby when I looked out the window. The lights I could see where several miles away and that just intensified my feeling of isolation. When Lyman Ward talked about the lack of noise during Susan's stay in the canyon, I thought I knew what he was talking about. During my one and a half hours without power, I really missed the sound of the refrigerator going off and on and the click of furnace kicking on. Obviously, the power is back on, and I feel a whole lot better. It is back in the 60's (or it was today), so maybe there is some hope for you, Sherry. Jane in arid Colorado =============== Reply 2 of Note 3 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 12/12 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 0:02 AM Sherry: A wonderful description of Stegner's writing: I agree one hundred percent. He writes with such a remarkable degree of clarity, both visually and verbally, that to read him is to be transported to the very time and place he describes. I recognize both Stegner's and McCarthy's western landscapes, but much prefer Stegner. Dick in Alaska where the pre-Christmas legal rush has him in a swoon =============== Reply 3 of Note 3 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/13 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 2:05 PM Many of you have wondered if Stegner was wheelchair-bound or if his wife was, since two characters in two of his novels are dependent on the wheelchair. I see the wheelchair and the need for one as a metaphor. Lyman Ward wrote a biography of his grandmother who he loved and admired. In the process he also wrote a biography of his grandfather whom he felt safe with and whom he thought was misinterpreted and not appreciated by his grandmother. Late in the novel we find out that Lyman is going through the same turmoil that his grandfather went through--dealing with betrayal and the stiffness of character that denies the possibility of forgiveness. I see Lyman's bone-stiffness as a physical manifestation of this unbending quality as inherited from his grandfather. I see his need for a wheelchair as a physical manifestation of the dependence and limited quality of his life as inherited from his grandmother. Ironically the wheelchair can symbolize both freedom and independence, depending on one's viewpoint. With his wheelchair he can gain independence from his son and his son's limiting ideas of what life should be. But the wheelchair also is a glaring icon of physical incapacity that makes even Lyman's passive life of academia very difficult to accomplish without great effort. Does anyone have any comments? Any additions? I thought the dream at the end was very telling. How would you interpret it? Sherry in Milwaukee waiting for the big storm =============== Reply 1 of Note 4 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 12/14 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:27 PM Sherry, That is a very interesting interpretation. I think that your idea is perhaps one possibility. But I am still thinking that there must be another reason that Stegner uses the wheelchair in two of his major stories. Jane who has almost finished. Isn't it a pity how our work interferes with our reading time? =============== Reply 2 of Note 4 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/15 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 1:13 AM One thing I can say about Ward's disabilities is that they are written absolutely RIGHT. Stegner must have known someone who went through this turmoil at least temporarily. The writing really came home to me after my bout with incapacity. It was such a great day when I could get to the bathroom without help, and even better when I no longer had to have Larry standing by when I finished my shower to powder my right leg and put on that huge elastic sock and removable cast without which I didn't dare move. I felt pretty good about washing the socks myself; the company would only buy me one pair, so I would wash one every bath. Stegner captures this in all its humiliation. It is so embarrassing; I don't think I'd want to live that way if there was no way I could recover. Mama tells me this is because I'm still too young for that sort of thing; as you grow older, you become more accepting of these necessities. Lyman Ward, you will note, was apparently stricken in his middle years. One thing that dream indicates is that he would really like to forgive. Cathy =============== Reply 3 of Note 4 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 12/15 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:37 PM I just finished ANGLE today. There were some definite echoes in those last few chapters. When Agnes drowned, I immediately thought of MAP OF THE WORLD. It was so horrible to lose such a lively little girl. The ironic part was that she was Susan's favorite. It seems that Stegner was bringing into play the conventions of earlier times to punish an adulteress (even though she was maybe an adulteress only in her mind). The dream seemed to me to be Lyman's way of working out whether he wanted his wife back or not. Could he forgive her, or would they end up living like his grandparents with no signs of affection between them? Or perhaps this was his greatest fear, that he would lose Ada and Shelly and have to depend upon his ex-wife for help. Jane who is now on Winter break - Yay!!!!! =============== Reply 4 of Note 4 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/18 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 6:41 PM All I had planned on sitting out of ANGLE OF REPOSE in order to work on my own projects, but you've all made this conversation so darned interesting that I couldn't resist. I've barely dipped my toe (p77), but have already read enough of Stegner's prose to make me want to hang up my pens and pencils. It's going to take forever to read this -- I keep having to stop and reread passages, trying to figure out how he does it. I mean, it's the same English Language I'm using -- but it's not the same at all. The scene where he's waiting for Ada, and the subsequent bathing still gives me shivers. >>>>> I did run ============== Note 12 ======= even get out of context -- "malgre," with an accent over the "e." The sentance (referring to his son) "He sits in with the sitter-inners, he will reform us malgre our teeth, he will make his omelet and be damned to the broken egss." Peggy =============== Reply 5 of Note 4 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 12/18 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 10:35 PM "Malgre" is French, isn't it? Meaning "in spite of"? I know I've seen it used this way. Jane, is that right? That's what I assume every time I see the word. Cathy =============== Note 3 =================  
To: ALL Date: 12/06 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 9:43 AM WALLACE STEGNER ON 'BELIEF' *** Dear CRs: I'm posting this separate from the current Stegner thread for two reasons: (1) It doesn't directly concern his fiction, and (2) It says so eloquently and compactly what I've only made fragmentary stabs at here, over the months/years, that I hope it gets as wide a reading and response as possible. It's a short piece Stegner was apparently asked to write for an Edward R. Murrow (!) radio program called "This I Believe," which gives you some idea of its vintage. *** THIS I BELIEVE, by Wallace Stegner In all honesty, what I believe is neither inspirational nor evangelical. Passionate faith I am suspicious of, because it hangs and burns witches and heretics, and generally I am more in sympathy with the witches and heretics than with the sectarians who hang and burn them. I fear immoderate zeal--Christian, Moslem, Communist, or whatever--because it restricts the range of human understanding and the wise reconcilation of human differences, and creates an orthodoxy with a sword in its hand. It is impossible to claim that I am even a sound Christian, though the code of conduct to which I subscribe was preached more eloquently by Jesus Christ than by any other. About God I simply do not know; I don't think I *can* know. That limits my beliefs to the conduct of this life. However far I have missed achieving it, I know that moderation is one of the virtues I most believe in. But I believe as well in a whole catalogue of Christian and classical virtues: in kindness and generosity, in steadfastness, in courage, and much else. I believe further that good depends not on things but on the use we make of things. Everything potent, from human love to atomic energy, is dangerous; it produces ill about as readily as good; it becomes good only through the control, the discipline, the wisdom with which we use it. Much of this control is social, a thing which laws and institutions and uniforms enforce, but much of it must be personal, and I do not see how we can evade the obligation to take full responsibility for what we individually do. Our reward for self-control and the acceptance of private responsibility is not usually money or power. Self-respect and the respect of others are enough. All this is to say that I believe in conscience, not as something implanted by divine act but as something learned since infancy from tradition and the society which has bred us. The outward forms of virtue will vary greatly from nation to nation. A Chinese scholar of the old school or an Indian raised on the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita has a conscience that will differ from mine. But in the essential outlines of what constitutes human decency we vary amazingly little. The Chinese and the Indian know as well as I do what kindness is, what generosity is, what fortitude is. They can define justice quite as accurately. It is only when they and I are blinded by tribal and denominational narrowness that we insist on our differences and can recognize goodness only in the robes of our own crowd. *** Amen, Mr. Stegner. I wish I'd said that. =============== Note 20 =================  
To: ALL Date: 12/30 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 0:31 AM ANGLE OF REPOSEby WALLACE STEGNER: I just finished this book and have lots of thoughts about it. How did you feel about this book? What about Susan vs. Oliver and their relationship? What about the ending of the book? It seemed abrupt to me as if Susan's life really stopped at 39 or so; I don't think so. I found her to be neurotic, conflicted and confused about so many issues. I wonder why Stegner is so interested in the psyche of women; I also read CROSSING TO SAFETY recently. I think its significant that the main characters of these books were disabled but we have to keep in mind that one was male and one was female. That's a big difference. I think he's unsure about whether he likes women. I believed he slipped into self-revelation in the last chapter when HE began talking about Lyman in the third person. I'd be interested in others' thoughts before I go on to my next read which will be the JOY LUCK CLUB again for my book group. =============== Reply 1 of Note 20 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 12/30 From: ERFN90B ELLEN JOHNSON Time: 11:14 AM Sabrina, I did think that Susan's life did 'end' at age 39 because, as the significance of the title, this is the time when she chose her 'angle of repose'-the decision to give up the fight. This was facilitated by her inability to forgive Oliver. I can understand her conflict but this did poison the rest of her life. The beauty of the book though was in Lyman's embracing of the need to forgive and in the end, it appears that he would transcend the fated curse of his grandmothers intransigence and ask his wife to come back and help him. At least this is the way I saw it. Agree? Disagree? I thought the chapters where Susan and Oliver were in Mexico were so well produced. This was a place where Susan could have blossomed but instead became another rung in the ladder of disappointment for her. You are so lucky to be reading THE JOY LUCK CLUB for the first time. Books like this are few and far between. Tell me what you think of that one also and in the meanwhile, I'd like to talk more about ANGLE OF REPOSE. Ellen =============== Reply 2 of Note 20 =================  
To: ERFN90B ELLEN JOHNSON Date: 12/30 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 5:04 PM Sabrina & Ellen: It seems to me that a missing element in the discussion is the 'western' viewpoint that comes through in Stegner's work -- and is embodied in the title, "Angle of Repose". Recall that the term is one used in engineering/materials handling to describe the angle to the perpendicular a pile of a given material will naturally assume when it's dumped or deposited -- i.e., gravel, wheat, etc. Thus, the angle of repose is inherently a natural state of rest, and one that can only be changed through artificial means, and probably only temporarily. In this sense, Susan's life and her difficulties, and the ultimate 'angles of repose' for all the story's conflicts are a necessary result of life at the time and place described. And it was a hard time and place, not subject to a great deal of manipulation and change. The soul adapted to the west, and not vice versa (that's what I mean by Stegner's 'western' viewpoint; I hasten to add, I also think it's a romanticized and not entirely accurate view, but one that is still as popular as four wheel drive pick-ups out here). I don't think I would agree that Stegner dislikes women; however, there are clearly some types of woman he admires more than others -- again, a faint whiff of the John Wayne here. Dick in Alaska, wishing you all a very happy New Year =============== Reply 3 of Note 20 =================  
To: ERFN90B ELLEN JOHNSON Date: 12/30 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 5:20 PM Ellen, I think that Lyman came to realize that he was working through his own issues by studying his grandmother's life. However, I'm not sure that I agree that he was ready and willing to forgive her. I think that he came to the decision not to take the angle of repose. Instead,he recognized, unlike his grandmother, that he had other options. Especially, I think Lyman will openly deal with his feelings and maybe even talk about them with his ex-wife. The twitching stump wouldn't let him give in to denial even if he wanted to or tried to resort to Susan's rigid defensiveness. Generally, Lyman is struggling with feelings of loss; loss of intimacy, loss of his old physical self, loss of sexual capacity; whereas, Susan just died emotionally herself rather than attempting to deal with her losses. What do you think? I agree with you she may have died emotionally. Forgiveness for Lyman--not yet; that will come. What happened to his mother, by the way? Thanks for responding. =============== Reply 4 of Note 20 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 12/30 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 9:32 PM I just did some cribbing today, and noted that Stegner based the grandmother on a real historical character: Mary Hallock Foote, born 1847 in Milton, New York and who was transplanted out west after marrying an engineer. She wrote a number of western books, illustrated some and also wrote a memoir about her life in the west. I suspect the memoir would make interesting reading; equally interesting is why Stegner would opt for a quasi-historical character here. C'mon guys and guysettes: time to hit those books! Dick in Alaska, where he's a little puzzled at the lack of available (locally that is) commentary on Stegner =============== Reply 5 of Note 20 =================  
To: ERFN90B ELLEN JOHNSON Date: 12/30 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 10:53 PM Ellen, I agree that the need to forgive is at the heart of this novel. I was a bit surprised that you mentioned Susan's inability to forgive Oliver because at the time I read this book I felt it was the other way around. It was Oliver who refused to forgive and Susan who accepted this because she felt she deserved it. But upon further thought, I think that lack of forgiveness probably did go both ways. Oliver, after all,seemed to have been genuinely in love with Susan, whereas her feelings for him never ran that deep. Perhaps if she had really reached out to him after the tragedy, some of those years of loneliness could have been avoided.I wonder if pride entered in. Ann =============== Reply 6 of Note 20 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 12/30 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:58 PM Dick and Sabrina, I tend to agree with you, Sabrina, that Lyman was probably not going to take his wife back into his life. I think that it is really interesting that Stegner did not make this very clear to the reader. We are left to make our own decisions. Did his grandmother's life really end at age 39, or did Lyman just run out of time? If this novel had been written more recently, I would have been at the bookstore looking for the sequel. His grandmother's life seemed to be quieter and maybe more content later in live (or was it just more resigned?). Jane who wishes you all a Happy 1996 and beyond! =============== Reply 7 of Note 20 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 12/31 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 3:09 AM The "western" element struck me immediately because I've read enough of that era and area to know that many premature dreams and fine lives were broken on the wheel of circum- stance. It didn't have to be "the West" per se that produced that effect; I've read fiction based on the same thing happening in Australia. Wherever harsh, new country is being settled, especially in a time of inventions and rapid changes, this phenomenon occurs. Stegner gives his characters a somewhat easier time of it than some actually had, but it was bleak enough. You kept thinking the thing was not fair; some of those good ideas and such should have come out. I did wonder about what kind of marriage Lyman's quiet, dislexic father might have managed. Now, there was a real tragedy nobody's discussed here. The employee who loved his mother had been his longtime trusted mentor. He may not have seen the strain before, but he was old enough to put things together when he realized this fellow and his mother were near the canal and each other when his sister died. He was the one who found the body, remember, and we're led to believe he made the connection pretty quickly. A double betrayal on top of that ghastly discovery - that was a clear crisis point in his life, and neither parent was able to deal with it. Cathy =============== Reply 8 of Note 20 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 12/31 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 6:23 PM Ann, What do you think about Susan's capacity for love and true intimacy? She ADORED her N.Y. friends and seemed almost like a TEASE in regards to her relationship with Frank and then couldn't appreciate Oliver; I agree with you that he did love or at least appreciate and accept her for who she was. She certainly was a complex character. =============== Reply 9 of Note 20 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 01/01 From: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Time: 0:19 AM I live a couple of miles from Stanford and have been collecting info about Stegner since I discovered him and Angle of Repose in 1971. Last year I visited New Almaden County Park on a Saturday when the museum is open, and bought a facsimile of Mary Hallock Foote's 1878 article for Scribner's Magazine, "New Almaden, A California Mining Camp." It is a copy of her article and her drawings. I think it was about $4. The address is: New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Assn., P.O. Box 124, New Almaden, CA 95042. If anyone is interested, I'll call down there and find out if the article is still available and the exact price. I was very excited to find it. I also have a book called "Conversations with Wallace Stegner - on Western History and Literature", by WS and Richard W. Etulain, Univ. of Utah Press, 1983, revised 1990. Here's a taste of the first part of the chapter on AofR: Etulain: What was the genesis of Angle of Repose? WS: the genesis is clearly the Mary Hallock Foote papers...I read the letters, which didn't happen instantaneously. There are enormous numbers of them, a stack that high of typed letters; it's about a year's work to read through the blooming things. I took them to Ver- mont one summer and read around wondering whether there might be a novel. Eventually I decided that if it was anything it was a novel, but it was a year or two before I finally determined that there was really a book there. It grew during the time of reading, perhaps because that story reinforced my own notion of what a story is....It was the boomer husband and the nesting wife, altho with variations in it and on a much higher social level (than Big Rock Candy Mt.) Anyway, it appealed to me finally as a story, and I determined that it was a novel...Then I began to realize that I didn't want to write just another 19th cent. triangle in cowpuncher's or in prospector's boots. I really didn't want to write a historical novel; I wanted to write a con- temporary novel, but it occurred to me that maybe past and present could be linked together in the way that I had obviously been working toward for a long time. So I fiddled around for a good long while, and I finally wrote the opening chapter more or less as it is, utilizing a narrator with a broken marriage and a broken body. The physical misfortunes I borrowed from the plight of my old professor, Norman Foerster. The marital problem I took from the experience of a friend of mine, whose wife - with whom he was madly, crazily in love, and by whom he had 6 or 7 children - left him suddenly, simply ran off with some doctor, who almost immediately got himself killed in an automobile accident up at Lake Tahoe. So she was left, having abandoned her husband and having lost her lover. She tried to come back to him - she tried to crawl back to him - and he wouldn't have her; he kicked her out - implacable. Which is the origin of the Lyman Ward story, essentially. I added the crippling and the other business partly because it was there before me in Foerster and partly bacause it seemed to accentuate the tearing apart of people who have been very close for a long time. And that's where that came from... But it did seem to me in the circumstances that I had imagined - using Grass Valley as the place for this - taking him back during this time of crisis and healing - that in that place sooner or later they were going to come for him. If he had children, they were going to come and try to take care of him, or put him away, file him away. He was in a box, as it seemed to me, speaking from a box rather hollowly, desperately reconstructing the life of his grand- mother and desperately avoiding his own. It seemed to me that the present and the past could be brought together in that way. If I could do it, I could tell one story the way a historical researcher might have reproduced it, & I could leak the other almost inadvertently. That double story created technical difficulties. (Continued on next reply) =============== Reply 10 of Note 20 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 01/01 From: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Time: 0:48 AM Here's my continuation of the Wallace Stegner Conversation book: As a matter of fact it was extremely difficult for me to find a way. I threw away the opening chapter 2 or 3 times, thinking, "I can't do it. I can't find any way of getting from here to there, any way of getting back"....Every time I tried it, it seemed awkward and clumsy. But eventually I found a way that I thought wasn't quite so clumsy, and when I had worked it out, I restored the original chapter. I had been smart enough in the beginning to say, "No, I won't throw it clear away, I won't put it in the wastebasket, I'll put it in the drawer." It was about a year, a year and a half, I suppose, before I found what I thought was a legiti- mate way of getting from past to the present and back again and working that technical problem out. Etulain: You mention the problem of trying to find the perspective that would bring past and present together. Were there other major problems you wrestled with in writing the novel? WS: Well, yes, because there is in that novel, too, in the forward part of it, some of the kind of thing that I was playing with in All the Little Live Things - the generation gap, and especially the antihistorical pose of the young, at least the young of the 1960s. They didn't give a damn what happened up to two minutes ago and would have been totally unable to understand a Victorian lady. I could conceive students of mine confronting Mary Hallock Foote and thinking, "My God, fantastic, inhuman," because they themselves were so imprisoned in the present that they had no notion of how various humanity and human customs can be. That's a secondary theme, like a subplot, in there. Etulain: I guess I was thinking of a technical problem more than a thematic one. WS: "Everything is subsumed in a voice when you tell a story in this way. All of Grandmother's story comes in as a voiced - Lyman's talking to hemself, to his tape recorder, to Shelly, or to somebody. His own story comes as the occasional mutterings or half-heard mutterings of an interior voice. They are very different stories, the mood is very different; that calls upon me to make subtle variations in the voice. I go all the way from the documentary, journalistic, research-student business of reassembling Grandma's data and putting them together as you might write a thesis - all the way from that to the halluci- nations of the final nightmare. Those differentiations of the voice are the real problem. ...It was a very difficult book to write, & I constantly painted myself into corners and had to back out and start painting again. I would fall into some kind of authorial omniscience that the book couldn't tolerate. Or I would get the wrong time in the wrong place, or not have Lyman sufficiently reticent about his own problems. I had to have him absolutely reticent and his story barely leaked, accessible only in occasional clues and hints. I took out a lot of clues and hints; I found I had a tendency to overex- plain." I hope this isn't too detailed to be interesting, but I thought it was fascinating to read WS's thoughts and diffi- culties in working out the technicalities. I also have the book of Mary Hallock Foote's reminiscences. It's called "A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West", edited by Rodman W Paul, 1972, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Haven't read it, but mean to someday! Hope this has been of interest to the Stegner fans. AofR is one of my all-time favorite books, but haven't read it in about 15 years. Jan in California (A loyal lurker!!) =============== Reply 11 of Note 20 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/01 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 2:42 AM Janet, you must really stop lurking. This is the kind of information I just love getting, and I think I can speak for most of the board. Cathy =============== Reply 12 of Note 20 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/01 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 3:09 AM This is my second try at an AOR post; the first one was too "gushing." I loved this book -- of all the gems I've found here, it's by far my favorite. Stegner's prose is beautful. I've read this thread with much interest -- especially the posts concerning Susan's love (or lack of it) for Oliver. I really felt that, at first, she did love him as much as he loved her -- otherwise the destruction of their relationship would not have been so tragic. I'm reminded of a quote I once heard (but can't remember who said it) "Women marry men hoping they'll change. Men marry women hoping they'll never change." more I think pride finally got to Susan; the realization that Oliver was always going to be a roving dreamer, and that she was stuck with him, ate away at her sensibilities. Pride also destroyed her relationship with Augusta -- I found myself wondering what would have happened if, when things got bleak, Susan had turned up on her friend's doorstep. Would Augusta have taken her in? BTW - Jan, thanks for the Stegner info -- as I read AOR, I often wondered at it's construction. Peggy =============== Reply 13 of Note 20 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/01 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:26 AM Dear Janet, I second Cathy--please stop lurking. As a Constant Reader I am Constantly Amazed at the connections that are made here. I, too, loved ANGLE OF REPOSE and was amazed at the way Stegner himself stayed so hidden. It seemed to me that the writer was Lyman. I really appreciate your taking the time to post the interview. I'll be sure to d/l it for further pondering. Sherry in Milwaukee on New Year's Day in Milwaukee where it is cloudy with freezing mist =============== Reply 14 of Note 20 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/01 From: ERFN90B ELLEN JOHNSON Time: 9:38 AM Janet, PLEASE, lurk no more! Your wonderful and informative post qualifies you for the Rookie posters hall of fame award. I've written all the addresses and titles down and look forward to reading the material. I'm glad Stegner mentioned the subplot of the young, somewhat irresponsible girl living in the 60's and trying to understand a woman who was 'liberated' for her times but certainly restricted in the present times through the eyes of Shelley. I found this to be a great addition to the work and also saw where Shelley, like Lyman, was looking for some blueprints for understanding her present situation through the life of someone in the past. It reinterated to me that the names, dates and accoutrements may change but the basic inner need to work out relationships and find significance in life, never will. The marital relationship between Oliver and Susan was complicated and hard to categorize. Did Susan love him? Did Oliver love Susan? But again, how many of us can say 'absolutely' to any question posed to us. And then in order to answer these questions we have to define the words-love, committment, etc. In a book I am currently reading, Milan Kundera's UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING, the author constantly reflects on the fact that we can not know if the choices we make are right or wrong because we only have one life to live. He ponders the question that if we continually come back and live our lives over if we would become more peaceful people or more violent. I guess (and Ann, you caught me!) I was always looking at Susan's side of the problem. I didn't always agree with her but I saw her as the victim in this play of life. I believe she married Oliver on the rebound as she felt rejected by her two best friends marriage;therefore changing the rules of the relationship. Jane mentions the quote about changes in marriage. I think the full quote is "women marry men and hope they can change them, but they don't; men marry women hoping they never change, but they do". Oliver was the same the day Susan met him as he was, probably, the day he died. But life is constantly in the state of change and I think it's frustrating when you have someone who is implacable. I think if Oliver was a bit more willowy, Susan could have been happier out west. In the end, I think both Susan and Oliver both constructed massive walls between themselves. The difference was that Oliver's seemed to reflect the betrayal and grief where Susan's I believe were being built throughout their married life together. Ellen =============== Reply 15 of Note 20 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 01/01 From: ERFN90B ELLEN JOHNSON Time: 9:44 AM Peggy, I'm sorry, in my previous post I attributed your quote to Jane. Please forgive! Again, I concur with your quote in reference to this book. Susan did seem to destroy the relationships most important to her. I imagine she had a lot of hidden anger to vent. Perhaps pride was something else she didn't want to lose. Ellen =============== Reply 16 of Note 20 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/01 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:19 AM Janet: Welcome and bless you for the post! Exactly the kind of information I was complaining I couldn't find locally. Lack of information for the curious is like some dreadful skin disease of the soul; never stops itching; nothing to scratch with; the calamine bottle caked and useless. Only high quality facts, and plenty of 'em will do to ease the pain -- and I feel much better already. Dick in Alaska =============== Reply 17 of Note 20 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/01 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 2:08 PM Janet: Welcome back, and thanks for the fascinating Stegner info. Hope you'll visit much more often in '96! >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 18 of Note 20 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/01 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 2:27 PM Janet & All: Speaking of Stegner, and considering the current season, I wanted to pass along this scene from his essay "The Gift of Wilderness"... *** I have been one of the lucky ones. I spent my childhood and youth in wild, unsupervised places, and was awed very early, and never recovered. I think it must have happened first when I was five years old, in 1914, the year my family moved to the remote valley of the Frenchman River in Saskatchewan. The town was not yet born--we were among the first fifty or so people assembled to create it. Beaver and muskrat swam in the river, and ermine, mink, coyotes, lynx, bobcats, rabbits, and birds inhabited the willow breaks. During my half dozen years there, I shot the rabbits and trapped the fur-bearers, as other frontier boys have done, and I can remember buying Canadian Victory Bonds, World War I vintage, with the proceeds from my trapline. I packed a gun before I was nine years old. But it is not my predatory experiences that I cherish. I regret them. What I most remember is certain moments, revelations, epiphanies, in which the sensuous little savage that I was then came face to face with the universe. And blinked. I remember a night when I was very new there, when some cowboys from the Z-X hitched a team to a bobsled and hauled a string of us on our coasting sleds out to the Swift Current hill. They built a fire on the river ice above the ford, and we dragged our sleds to the top of the hill and shot down, blind with speed and snow, and warmed ourselves a minute at the fire and plowed up the hill for another run. It was a night of still cold, zero or so, with a full moon--a night of pure magic. I remember finding myself alone at the top of the hill, looking down at the dark moving spots of coasters, and the red fire with black figures around it down at the bottom. It isn't a memory so much as a vision--I don't remember it, I *see* it. I see the valley, and the curving course of the river with its scratches of leafless willows and its smothered bars. I see the moon reflecting upward from a reach of windblown clear ice, and the white hump of the hills, and the sky like polished metal, and the moon; and behind or in front of or mixed with the moonlight, pulsing with a kind of life, the paled, washed-out green and red of the northern lights. I stood there by myself, my hands numb, my face stiff with cold, my nose running, and I felt very small and insignificant and quelled, but at the same time exalted. Greenland's icy mountains, and myself at their center, one little spark of suffering warmth in the midst of all that inhuman clarity. *** >>Dale in rainy, foggy, springlike Ala. =============== Reply 1 of Note 10 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/01 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 10:35 PM Janet, thanks very much for posting the background info on Stegner and AOR. I find it quite interesting to learn about the origins of various aspects of the novel and the process of transforming them into a coherent narrative. Back in the first AOR thread, I speculated about whether Stegner used parts of Mary Foote's letters verbatim or if Susan's correspondence was entirely synthesized, so to speak, from what WS found in Foote's writing. Is this sub- ject dealt with in the source you've quoted here? AND NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: It may interest the rest of you folks to learn that Janet has been reading along with us at least since August 8, 1994. She e-mailed me on that day to ask about reading BB notes offline and has presumably been invisibly with us ever since! Janet, now that you've come out in the open, I hope you'll take the encouragement of our Faithful Correspondents to heart and feel free to con- tribute often in the future. We can never have too many posts as good as those you've favored us with thus far. Allen =============== Reply 2 of Note 10 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 01/01 From: ZGPG28A CARLA GLADSTONE Time: 10:39 PM Sabrina, It was something of a throw-away line, but there is a mention of his mother in Lyman's narrative - that she died when he was two. So Susan Ward in old age was the woman who brought him up. (I can't give a reference because the book has been returned to the library.) My reaction to the book was very different from that of most of the people who have posted so far. By the time I was half-way through, I had completely lost interest in the Susan-Oliver story. Neither of them felt real. I second Jane Niemeier that Lyman is the most interesting character in the book but I feel that he is really the only character in the book. I did read the book to the end and although the Susan story continued to be unconvincing I was rewarded by the final pages where the focus was on Lyman. I think that Stegner's editor did him no favours by letting him use the "dream that isn't a dream" device twice in one novel, even if it was a very long novel. It took away some of the punch when he used it the second time, and the second time (Lyman's dream) had much more drama and tension than the first one (Susan's dream in Mexico). Another literary device that didn't work well for me was the "cut ahead" from Susan and Oliver talking to after the catastrophe when Susan takes the two remaining children to the East. By the time he came to delineate the catastrophe itself my interest was an acedemic one of "how is the author going to complete this plot" rather than any feeling about the characters themselves. I also didn't like the use of the drunken midwife to raise the drama for the birth of Agnes. It was the kind of clumsy plot device that Thomas Hardy had resorted to, and Stegner shows in the rest of the book that he can concoct and deliver a story without using such devices. It's clear that many of you found things in the book that I did not. Still I'm not likely to pick up other books by Stegner. Sixty pages in, I've enjoyed "October Light" more than all 600-odd pages of "Angle of Repose". Carla in Washington, DC =============== Reply 3 of Note 10 =================  
To: ERFN90B ELLEN JOHNSON Date: 01/01 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 11:45 PM Ellen Fear not -- unlike Oliver, I can forgive. I agree, all Susan had left was her pride, but when you consider how she spent the last 50+ years of her life, pride isn't much. That seemed to be Lyman's conclusion as well -- he could sit out there in Grass Valley wrapped in misery and pride as his grandmother did, or he could try to forgive his ex-wife. I like to think he took her back, but then I'm a sucker for a happy ending.... Peggy =============== Reply 4 of Note 10 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/02 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 5:39 PM Ann: Your quote from Stegner about "because the boy could not express his emotions, she assumed that he had none" really struck a nerve with me. On top of being born male, I was given a completely poker face and a soft, moderated tone of voice, both of which I've tried to change and cannot. Though my insides run the continuum from blissful to extremely agitated, nobody can tell the difference from my exterior. As a result, I've lost count of the times I've been asked--almost always be a female, it seems--"You just don't give a damn, do you?" or "Why am I even talking to you about this? It's obvious you don't care." This, mind you, without my having a chance to say a word about what I'm thinking or feeling on the subject at hand; it's judged completely in advance, by my facial expression and tone of voice. And that hurts. On paper, I can let my feelings rip with the best of them. Face to face, I can never seem to give it quite the oomph that's required for credibility by the opposite sex. The people I really feel sorry for are those who don't even have the outlet of paper. >>Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 5 of Note 10 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 01/02 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:56 PM Peggy, I do not agree!! If Lyman got back together with his wife, I think he would have been miserable. I don't see this as a happy ending at all. A happy ending would be if he could get a caretaker to stay with him. But it must be a caretaker who is sensitive to his needs and who doesn't intrude too much. How about his homely friend that we met twice? Jane in frigid Colorado. =============== Reply 6 of Note 10 =================  
To: WTJF17B JANET LANDAUER Date: 01/02 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 11:46 PM Thank you so much for your info about Stegner and AOR. It answered so many questions for me. Interesting! =============== Reply 7 of Note 10 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/02 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 11:46 PM Hi Ann, What about the COMPLEMENTARY relationships that tend to work so well? I kept thinking about the theories of Harville Hendrix--GETTING THE LOVE YOU WANT and John Gray--MEN ARE FROM MARS;WOMEN FROM VENUS. In fact, I found this quote from John Gray "difference produces disagreement when it is not acknowledged or understood. Appreciating and knowing difference are the keys to love." I continually became frustrated with Susan's nonacceptance of Oliver while he seemed to acknowledge her difference. I'm not sure she would have continued to be intrigued by Frank since he was so much like her; the mystery required to maintain passion would have been absent. I don't think I was correct in stating that Stegner didn't like women. I take that back. He was making a point about certain kinds of women and certain kinds of relationships now that I think about it and reflect on Janet's informative post. I'm not sure that I agree about there being no good guys or bad guys. I wish both of them had worked harder to be happy. To me,the book was filled with tragedy that the characters created for themselves. Maybe only Lyman will gain some resolution. I'm trying to have a more positive view of,at least, my life. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. I agree that it is interesting to learn the thoughts of others. Our perspectives probable come from where we are in our lives. My true love of 25 years reads only about a couple of books a year and NEVER would dream of communicating on a BB I can't bring myself to go see EXHALE. I don't like the choices for the roles. Plus, its hard for me to go to a movie after I have read the book. I already have my own fantasies of the characters and scenes that I want to hold in my memory. I usually can do vice versa,i.e., see the movies first and then read the book. African-American women are happy to see a depiction of their lives on screen. =============== Reply 8 of Note 10 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 01/03 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 1:28 PM Jane, I am totally intrigued by your idea that it was not a happy ending for Lyman to get back together with his wife, in large part because it was the total opposite of my reaction. And I am trying to understand why we had such different views. It occurred to me that it was perhaps the difference between a romantic (you?) and a realist (me). What do you think? At heart I think that life consists largely of compromise and successfully working within the limitations circumstances impose on us. In Lyman's case, those limitations were very severe because of his physical problems. In his case, there could be no ideal ending. At least the return of his now chastened wife, with whom he shared a lifetime of memories, seemed preferable to me than the terrible loneliness and increasing dependence on strangers that threatened him. If you remember, his caretaker was at about the end of her physical rope as well. And I do very much agree with Ellen that this novel was about the healing power of forgiveness. =============== Reply 9 of Note 10 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 01/03 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 1:30 PM Sabrina, I think that you made an excellent point regarding the value of "complementary" relationships. In a marriage there must always be a balance between the differences and similarities of the two partners. Too much of either one or the other spells disaster. Rather than common interests per se, I think it is most important that a couple share common values However, in regard to ANGLE, it seemed to me that life in the rugged West of the nineteenth century made a union of opposites much more difficult than it would be in our own times. Don't you think it is true that it was Susan who was asked to adapted her life to Oliver's rather than vice versa? And Stegner indicated that there were places they lived -- Mexico, for instance-- where Susan could have been happy as well as Oliver if he had just made some compromises and agreed to settle down. I will never forget the terrible isolation of her life when Oliver was trying to build the irrigation system. Stegner described a place where the silence was absolute. For a woman who thrived on conversation and shared ideas, this must have been a terrible hardship indeed. I know what you mean about seeing movies after you have read the book and feeling that the parts have been terribly miscast because you KNOW what those characters really look like. I would agree that it generally is easier to read the book after the movie than vice versa. Recently I saw the movie PERSUASIAN, immediately went out and bought the book, and thoroughly enjoyed my chance to spend more time with the characters the movie had introduced to me. Of course, if the movie had not been such a faithful adaptation, I am sure I would have felt quite different! Ann =============== Reply 1 of Note 11 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 01/03 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:11 PM Ann, How very strange! I was thinking of myself as the realist and you as the romantic. I felt that Lyman's wife could never accept his disability. I think this is why she left him in the first place. She would never be able to overcome her distaste for his handicap. He would be much better off with a paid caretaker than with someone who was there because she had nowhere else to go or because she pitied his condition. Lyman was a very proud person who could not easily forgive. I think that even if he had let her return, he would not have been able to forgive her. Jane who knows some people who are similar to Lyman. =============== Reply 2 of Note 11 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 01/03 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 11:45 PM I think that to be happy with himself Lyman would have to extend some measure of forgiveness to his wife. Obviously his anger, etc. at her ate into him mentally as much as his disease did physically. Living with might not have been a really good situation, but some forgiveness and visiting might have been healing for both of them. I don't know that what she felt for Lyman's physical disabilities was distaste. Have you ever been with someone stricken by a sudden serious disability? In their own anger and misery trying to deal with the thing they are almost impossible for family members to live with. Considering his proud nature and the shock he must have felt at being cut off in the midst of life, he may well have spent the weeks prior to her desertion railing at her that she probably WOULD now want another husband. He struck me as a man who would behave like that and then never, never understand why she turned away from him. For a woman once having left a man to try to go back to him, either as in the story or the real life example Stegner described, seems the height of folly. Even if he accepts her back, he will never forget and there will always be the sly digs or worse. A woman (or man either, for that matter) is much better rebuilding her/his life alone. Don't ever let anybody tell you nothing's worse than loneliness. Cathy =============== Reply 3 of Note 11 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 01/04 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 9:34 PM Jane, It's been awhile since I read the book, but my impression was that Lyman projected a lot of his own feeling about his disability onto his wife. If he was interpreting her reaction objectively, rather than assuming she was repulsed by his handicaps because that is how he felt about them, then I would have to agree that they were in for real trouble. Cathy, I am sure that you are right that the road ahead would not be smooth, but I guess I personally would rather spend the rest of my life with a flawed, but repentent, spouse than with a paid nurse. They did at least have a shared history in common, not to mention that truly terrible son. Jane, what do you mean you are not a romantic? I see that Don Juan DeMarco was on your top 10 movie list for 1995! This movie was pretty popular with my husband and sons, but even Johnny Depp could not redeem it for me. Ann

 

Wallace Stegner
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