Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs
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Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  959 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs gathers together Wallace Stegner's most important and memorable writings on the American West: its landscapes, diverse history, and shifting identity; its beauty, fragility, and power. With subjects ranging from the writer's own "migrant childhood" to the need to protect wh...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1992)
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My father is Australian, my mother is from St. Louis, I grew up in the Philippines, I went to a few years of college in Chicago before running out of money and dropping out, and I currently live in Atlanta among immigrants and refugees. So when I read Wendell Berry's essays on a sense of place, his ideals evoked a real hunger in me to feel placed, but his example would have been absurd for me to try and follow.

Stegner, who taught Wendell Berry at Stanford, read all of his work seriously, and cor...more
What's not to like about Wallace Stegner? He's a brilliant writer, an activist, a great teacher and mentor, and a literary gem of the West. This collection of essays examines our relationship with the natural world, the rise of the environmental movement, commentary on other great writers, and, my personal favorite, a letter to his mother "much too late," written when he was an old man. That an old man can still look back at his life and admire his mother with such tenderness and honesty says he...more
I really loved this thoughtful collection of essays on living and writing in the West. Written in 1990, I wonder what Stegner would think now about the rate at which we exchange information. I particularly loved his essay on Sense of Place:

“The deep ecologists warn us not to be anthropocentric, but I know no way to look at the world, settled or wild, except through my own human eyes. I know that is wasn't created especially for my use, and I share the guilt for what members of my species, espec...more
If you're a fan of Wallace Stegner or simply love living or visiting the West, this is the book for you. Stegner's beautiful words bring with them a sense of the beauty, the desolation, the destruction, and the fragility of the West.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is a personal note from Stegner, not only to the West that he loves but to his mother as well. If you've read his semi-autobiography, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, you'll know what trials she went through with her more...more
This is Stegner’s final book and is an excellent collection of essays about life, the West, writers and writing. What he says about literature and good writing comes close to expressing what I feel about good writing and reading. He wants writers to write from their own experiences and write in their own way and not be bound by someone else’s concept of method. “What literature is supposed to be…at its best is a bolt of lightning from me to you, a flash of recognition and feeling within the cont...more
Really 4.5 stars. This was my first venture into Stegner and I am so glad I picked it up!

It is a collection of essays he wrote regarding growing up, living and writing in the West. When I started it I didn't have the intention of reading it all the way through, but to pick it up and read an essay once in a while. However, once I got started I didn't really want to stop.

The first section made me want to go out into the wilderness and go camping, hiking and fishing. The second half made me want...more
Sherry (sethurner)
Wallace Stegner is one of my favorite writers, whether writing fiction or nonfiction. I purchased this book to read on a long train trip home from Seattle to Wisconsin, and it turned out to be perfect for that trip through the high plains. This slim volume is a collection of essays covering a variety of subjects, his life, the geology and ecology of the West, analysis of his own writing and of other writers who wrote in or about the West. His writing is always clear, intelligent and straight for...more
Apr 11, 2013 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Westerners
Yes, the power of place. I've lived in the west all my life, but I fell in love with the west when I read this book. Stegner is ... I got nothing. Just read this book if you are a westerner or wish to understand one. I had all these feelings about the west, Utah in particular. Stegner helped me articulate them.

First Reading July 2005
Second Reading April 2013
I rate this as a five star not because it's a page-turner, but because if you are from the American West you cannot but help to be moved by Stegner's words. There are little gems in here that deserve to be reread every now and again.
Dorothy Quate
In Stegner's own words to match the landscape:

Vibrant wide angle view of the West and its forever enchantment to those of us who live here and those who wish they did!
Steve Howes
Anyone interested in the American West should read this book. Even persons who are not serious students of history will find this book a very informative and engaging read. Through a number of essays, the author discusses his thoughts about what makes the West unique from other parts of the country, what characterizes people as "westerners", and brief synopses of the natural, political, and conservation history of the area west of the 100th meridian. The last part of the book discusses the effec...more
This book helped explain to me why I love the writing of Wallace Stegner and Wendell Berry so much. The writing of each is shaped so much by a sense of place, whether that of a river town in rural Kentucky or the arid west. Neither is like the places I've lived but they help me also become a placed person, to understand that who I am is shaped by where I am.

This book is a collection of Stegner's essays that include some autobiographical material about the spaces in which he grew up. For me, the...more
I enjoyed this set of essays much more than I anticipated. This was my first foray into Stegner and I'm ready for his fiction. His writing was accessible but also deep and instructive. These previously published essays are divided into three sections. The first section is a biographical section that was quite interesting as it told of his early life and deprivations. The second section is about the West as a place and included writings on public lands, environmentalism, government bureaus that o...more
A series of essays and reflections by Wallace Stegner on his childhood, how living in the arid west molds individuals, on some fellow authors, their works, and the process/effort/limitations of writing.

Two of my favorite essays were, "A Migrant Childhood" and "A Letter to Wendell Berry." Stegner presents the reader with gift, in this case a gift of insight into how one's childhood shapes the adult, and how to be gracious to another.

He probably explains as well as I've ever come across why the We...more
Wallace Stegner writes believable, luscious fiction. His metaphors and similes sometimes sink clear into my bones, and I re-read a phrase over and over again for the beauty and creativity of the thought and words. But this book is a collection of his essays on "Living and Writing in the West". As a professor of literature and writing at the U of Utah, he used his love for the West to teach some future famous environmentalists, including Edward Abbey. These essays often focus on his theme of envi...more
Delway Burton
I have known of Stegner for a long time, even started An Angle of Repose, but was impatient and read no more than two or three chapters. This collection of essays was recommended to me by a friend and I was not disappointed. The direction of most of the pieces is environmental and historical, dealing with the settling of the American West (beyond the 90th Meridian). He takes the long view and puts America's expansion and our obsession with controlling nature in their proper perspective, beyond t...more
Joe Dobrow
Favorite quotes from Where the Blue Sings to the Lemonade Springs:

And yet there is something to the notion of western independence; there is something about living in big empty space, where people are few and distant, under a great sky that is alternately serene and furious, exposed to the sun from four in the morning till nine at night, and to a wind that never seems to rest -- there is something about exposure to that big country that not only tells an individual how small he is, but steadily...more
Stegner is a master of understanding and communicating what is unique about the American west. His understanding comes from his own life experience as a child whose parents followed the "boom" times and moved on when the "bust" came. We've seen this, too, with the gas/oil debacle of the late '80's and now with the real estate situation and the overbuilding cycles.
Stegner's father tended to be on the losing end most of the time, but his mother kept the family civilized by refusing to let the pia...more
Aug 06, 2011 Alan added it
Non fiction collection of essays on living and writing in the west. It takes its name from a line from the old hobo song The Big Rock Candy Mountains about a fantasy land of plenty which Stegner uses as a metaphor for the West, through which he and his family traveled nearly as hoboes traveling from one failed enterprise to another during his youth. After settling in Salt Lake City, where he went to high school, the first in his family to do so, he went on to college. He writes about living in a...more
Jeffrey McCord
Jun 22, 2007 Jeffrey McCord rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of the Western states, Stegner fans, naturalists, environmentalists
Stegner approaches the vast, often prickly subject of the West from several angles--that of a novelist, a naturalist, an environmentalist, a defender, an objective observer, all poignant but uncynical. The thread that strings these dozen or so essays together is the tenous nature of modern settlements there. From land use, to logging, to nearly a century of irresponsible water engineering wreaking havoc on the landscape, Stegner attempts to balance his love for the region with a sort of existent...more
I will pretty much read anything and everything Wallace Stegnar writes. This is a lovely book of essays that made me think about the West, water, and Mormonism in a totally different way. The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because his message gets a little old. The West, it's sacred, it doesn't have a lot of water, our current treatment of the land isn't sustainable, we get it. Still, some lovely, lovely essays that should be read in a hammock in the backyard, or on the shores of a river...more
A collection of Stegner's writings on the American West ranging from his own personal experiences to essays on other western writers. Whether I agreed with him or not (often not in the Habitat section) he presents his subject beautifully. I enjoy his humor and appreciate his passion for the subject. I am a native of the American West and most of his essays resonate. I recognize where he is and what he is talking about. Haunted by Waters: Norman Maclean was my absolute favorite. I loved Stegner's...more
A collection of essays, including book reviews, is probably not the best way to try out a new author, and I won't hold it against Stegner. "Angle of Repose" has been so highly rated by others that I will have to still try it. That said, this was okay. I thought the essays at the beginning about the American West were interesting, though having read Marc Reisner and Patricia Limerick this year, it's sort of all the same refrain after awhile. But I have to admit I started skipping pages during the...more
Many beautifully written essays. The one I like best was to his mother: Letter Much Too Late.
Jun 01, 2009 Victor added it
Stegner loved the west and wrote about it throughout his career. He was friends of George R. Stewart and I want to read Stewart's book, the Earth Abides. This is a science fiction in which a virus kills off mankind. Also want to read Steinbeck's short story "Flight" and Norman McClean's "The River Runs Through It." I read Ernest Seton's short story called "Lobo the King of Currumpaw" and realized it was the same story retold by Cormac McCarthy in his last book of the Border Trilogy, "The Crossin...more
Ever since watching a PBS biographical program about Stegner I have wanted to read more of his books. This collection of essays reveals much about his personal story, the sense of place and space he found in the West, and how other authors have portrayed or interpreted this part of our country. His common sense environmental message seems grounded in reality instead of wishful thinking. I know I loved "Crossing to Safety" when I read it years ago. This book will help me, I think, in reading and...more
Wallace Stegner is a writer from the west, and this book is a collection of essays about living in and writing about the west. The first 3 essays, the personal ones, are fantastic. 5 stars. The beauty of his writing in Crossing into Eden almost makes me cry, it's so lovely. The rest of it put me right to sleep. Conservation is good, I quite agree, but let's not go on for a hundred pages about it. Let me be clear: The first 3 chapters get 5 stars. The rest of the book gets 2. So that makes it a q...more
Wallace Stegner amazes me. I just came off reading BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN, and he opens this non-fiction with telling how autobiographical BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN was. His mother in the novel was a strong, dear woman, and in WHERE THE BLUEBIRD SINGS, he writes her a letter just before he turns 80.

In this incredible book, he talks of his life, gives advice on writing, and talks of writers he admires. If you are familiar with Stegner, you will burn through this insightful book, as I did.
This is a collection of essays that were originally published as "stand-alones" in magazines. The common thread is Stegner himself. Several of the pieces are about the land he loved, the rugged west. A couple of the stories gave insight into the author and the life that influenced his writing. My favorite was the very first essay entitled, "Finding the Place: A Migrant Childhood." Don't skip the introduction because it also is one of the better parts of the book.
Very interesting to learn more about Stegner. I love his writing style and the depth of all his stories- fiction and non fiction.
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More Literary Criticism 2 9 Jun 18, 2008 06:40PM  
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Wallace Earle Stegner (February 18, 1909—April 13, 1993) was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers."
More about Wallace Stegner...
Angle of Repose Crossing to Safety The Big Rock Candy Mountain The Spectator Bird All the Little Live Things

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“The deep ecologists warn us not to be anthropocentric, but I know no way to look at the world, settled or wild, except through my own human eyes. I know that is wasn't created especially for my use, and I share the guilt for what members of my species, especially the migratory ones, have done to it. But I am the only instrument that I have access to by which I can enjoy the world and try to understand it. So I must believe that, at least to human perception, a place is not a place until people have been born in it, have grown up in it, have lived in it, known it, died in it--have both experienced and shaped it, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities, over more than one generation. Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made a place only by slow accrual, like a coral reef.” 4 likes
“It is not an unusual life curve for Westerners - to live i n and be shaped by the bigness, sparseness, space clarity & hopefulness of the West, to go away for study and enlargement and the perspective that distance and dissatisfaction can give, and then to return to what pleases the sight and enlists the loyalty and demands the commitment.” 3 likes
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