Wings Great Reads: Angle of Repose
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From Publishers Weekly
This long, thoughtful novel about a retired historian who researches and writes about his pioneer grandparents garnered Stegner a Pulitzer Prize.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"Two stories, past and present, merge to produce what important fiction must: a sense of the enhancement of life". -- Los Angeles Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This novel, at its heart, is a work about personal endurance and self-discovery. As Lyman explores the hardships of his grandparents' life, he comes to learn more about his own ability to stand firm in the face of difficulty. Lyman's narrative voice is wise, objective, and admiring, at times reminiscent of Philip Roth's Nathan Zuckerman. Through this voice Stegner has managed to capture that elusive feel of what it means to be human and to truly live. His characters ring true in all their beauty and all their flaws. And his message is a powerful one - that life can be a sedentary existence or an active one, and that it is our decision how we react to the circumstances of our environment.
The conclusion of these lives (to which we are privy) is not simple nor cheap. But it does stand apart from the rest of the novel. And it does not offer comfort- but rather a glimpse into a set of lives that might be more real than we'd like to admit.
Given all this, I find it utterly astonishing that a couple of reviewers should have the impression that he does not know whereof he wrote. For instance, one reviewer wrote, "Bottom line: the West has a geography, and its denizens a temperament, that demands that we write and read about it in a way that does justice to the hard realities of life in a barren place." Why he would imagine that Stegner, who was intimately familiar with the geography, was one of its denizens, and knew first hand the hard realities of the place by spending his childhood in a variety of barren places, utterly baffles me. I suspect that it is because the book writes about the REAL West and not the West of the Imagination.Read more ›
Wallace Stegner is a fantastic writer, and I agree the book deserved a Pulitzer. However, to really appreciate it, you have to bring all of your energy, and that's a lot to ask for 630 pages. I read closely for the first 300 pages or so, and then I just gave up and enjoyed the story. This is unfortunate, but I can't go back and reread it two or three times, as others have done, just to do it justice. Angle of Repose deserves its own semester course.
At times the story is tedious, and at times, it's breathtaking, as with the scene where the hard-charging stagecoach almost shoves Oliver and Susan over a cliff. I valued the descriptions of the towns in which Oliver and Susan lived in the late 19th century. You get a real sense of how America developed and what it took to create such a place! The humans were both heroic and deficient. Although Oliver was almost superhuman, this strong, silent archetype exacted a price from himself and everyone around him for his rigidity. Also, I despaired at Susan's weakness of character, and the way she didn't value her husband or her son. Yet most of the time she was just trying to do the right thing. Everyone was!
In fact, one of the themes of this book was "perseverance in the face of continued and utter failure.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Beautifully written, the story moves seamlessly from the present day back to the mid 1800’s as a man traces the life of his grandmother.Published on Jan. 30 2014 by LD
I just keep coming back to this book. It's lovely. I love the depiction of the west and the view of the world from the narrator's eyes. I just can't recommend it enough.Published on July 6 2004
Beautiful novel with rich and evocative detail, telling the story of four generations of a family. The story focuses on the tale of the narrators grandparents, early pioneers of... Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by J. Jacobs
A retired professor, confined to a wheelchair in his family home in northern California, collects notes to write his grandmother's life story and ends up telling his own. Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2004 by M. Eugeni
I really wanted to love this book that my bookstore guru gave 5 stars. I don't think I'll ever NOT like a book I've chosen to read. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2004 by Paul S. Crawford
First of all, I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was the innaugural choice for a newly-formed book club of college professors here in Idaho, so with much of the book... Read morePublished on Dec 20 2003 by HardyBoy64
First of all, I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was the innaugural choice for a newly-formed book club of college professors here in Idaho, so with much of the book... Read morePublished on Dec 15 2003 by Robert Colvin
I couldn't put this one down. The prose was lovely, the descriptions so vivid, the characters so complex, the narrative threads so surprising. Read morePublished on July 28 2003 by M. Cutler
Angle of Repose is a commentary on marriage, what makes it work and what makes it fail. A severely disabled (wheelchair bound) professor, whose marriage has failed, researches and... Read morePublished on June 23 2003 by Peggy Vincent