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Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs

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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,168 ratings  ·  87 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,402)
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Sunni
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
Northpapers
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
Elinor
Wallace Stegner is just such a brilliant writer, and such a thoughtful man. This wide-ranging collection of essays about the west rings true on many levels for those of us who live here. It is the personal essays that I liked the most -- his tribute to his long-dead mother, for example. I'm always surprised when people haven't heard of this incredible guy. He died in 1993. What a loss that was to literature, the west, and the world.
Rachel
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
Bobbi
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
John
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
Stacie
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
Ben
Some of these are Stegner at his best, and some are only three stars. But it's still worthwhile.
Margaret Walters
Wonderful - love all Wallace Stegner's writing.
Dan
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
Monte Dutton
Stegner is among my favorite authors, a man whose writing, like the music of Gram Parsons, never reached me until after his death. I ran across him because he taught and influenced and crossed paths with Tom Wolfe, and Ken Kesey, and Larry McMurtry, and others.
Personally, this book is a "4." Much of it is about writing, and I found its advice insightful. Taking it as a collection of essays, that's where I got my "3."
I found all of it interesting, but I languished a bit reading of the profound e
...more
Sarah
The personal essays are lovely and powerful, especially "Crossing Into Eden." The essays on the people and land of the West are often insightful, though Stegner becomes repetitive on certain themes (e.g., the importance of the West's aridity in the shaping of its culture). The third section of the book, "Witnesses," could just as well have been called "Miscellaneous," and there was a lot of stuff in there that didn't resonate with me. (A critical essay on a short story by Steinbeck? I'd rather h ...more
Janet
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!
Jo Deurbrouck
Wallace Stegner, I have for many years counted myself lucky that you lived nearly your entire life in the West and that the West was, from the start, the subject dearest to your heart, but this book cements it. You say the things I "know" but have never articulated, and you say with clarity the things I fumble to express. I'll read this book again and again.

Readerfolk, if you want to understand the West and Westerners, or if you are one and you want to better understand yourself, this book is a
...more
Bonnye Reed
I like to re-read this book every few years, but the copy at my Library has been stolen or lost, and I didn't get my Wallace Stegner fix this fall. My children surprised me with the top 5 books from my Amazon wish list, so I have been reveling in great books!

Wallace Stegner is a wonderful writer, and I try to live up to his advice in these collected short essays and lectures from over the years concerning the proper husbandry of our nation, our planet. He explains in detail the powers and limit
...more
Steven 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
Bob
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
Sue
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
Tim
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
Bobbi
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
Kathy
I seem to be reading through various Wallace Stegner books in a good order for me. He wrote a lot of fiction and a lot of non-fiction. This is a collection of essays about the West. It includes a lot about his personal life as well as reviews about other Western authors. He wrote this book when he was 80 which brings a neat perspective to everything. This book turned me on to many other books that I want to read now.
Sean Van
This is an interesting book, and personally has been something of a guide in formulating my own thinking about the west and my place within it, both as a person and a writer. The book includes a number of essays, which, despite varying in the degrees with which they deal with history, biography, and literature, all gravitate towards the west and Stegner's personal experience of the same. I particularly love his discussion of Norman Maclean.
Terry
A collection of essays about living and writing in the West. Stegner is an environmentalist who deplores the attempts to remake the West in the image of the rest of the county. He appreciates the culture of the West which is based on aridity, open space, and restlessness. He reviews some of the significant books and ideas of writers who are anchored in the West.
Maggie
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
Katherine
Aug 28, 2015 Katherine is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
“...the place that years of our lives had worn smooth” (12).
“I was used to horizons that either lifted into jagged ranges or rimmed the geometrical circle of the flat world” (17).
“...I confess that I am often simply lost, as much in need of comfort, understanding, forgiveness, uncritical love--the things you used to give me--as I ever was at five, or ten, or fifteen” (22).
“...and walked for hours with my mind clenched like a fist” (23).
“But you must understand that you are the hardest sort of hu
...more
Alan
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
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More Literary Criticism 2 10 Jun 18, 2008 06:40PM  
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  • Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert
  • The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky
  • Winter: Notes from  Montana
  • Confessions of a Barbarian
  • Hole in the Sky: A Memoir
  • Wilderness and the American Mind
  • Winter Brothers: A Season at the Edge of America
  • Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
  • The River of the Mother of God: and other Essays by Aldo Leopold
  • Where Rivers Change Direction
  • The Secret Knowledge of Water
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157779
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 Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West

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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.” 6 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.” 4 likes
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