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Marking the Sparrow's Fall: The Making of the American West

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  140 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Winner of three O. Henry Awards, the Commonwealth Gold Medal, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Kirsch Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement, Wallace Stegner was a literary giant. In Marking the Sparrow's Fall, the first collection of Stegner's work published since his death, Stegner's son Page has collected, annotated, and edited fifteen essays that ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 15th 1999 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1998)
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Bruce
Jul 30, 2013 Bruce rated it it was amazing
I had previously read only Wallace Stegner’s novels – Angle of Repose, Crossing to Safety – but this summer on a road trip from Wisconsin to California I found this book of his essays in a small bookstore in Grand Teton National Park. Enchanted with the vastness and wildness of the West, I bought the book to try to gain perspective on places and ways of life outside my own experience. Would Stegner’s prose in his non-fiction approximate the magic of his fiction writing?

This collection was assemb
...more
Robin
Oct 01, 2010 Robin rated it really liked it
Don't read this of you grew up in the western arid US and now are transplanted elsewhere- it will cause unbelievable homesickness. Beautiful beautiful book.
Greg Strandberg
Sep 28, 2015 Greg Strandberg rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I picked this book up primarily for the short essay on Bernard Devoto. Stengner does a great job profiling the man, his works, and the political and social battles that man waged. I didn't look at the other essays in this book, though I'm sure some are good. "Backroads of the American West" and "That Great Falls Year" would usually interest me, and maybe I'll get to them one day.
Marc
Oct 18, 2008 Marc rated it really liked it
His writing is a love affair with the landscape. Once every last subdivision is built, his writing will be the blueprint for the sense of space and possibility, the incredibly attentive privacy possible in that bulldozed frontier.
Julie
Mar 30, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
Reading these essays is like traveling by a slow train, looking through expansive windows at beautiful landscapes of place and time. This is not a book to eat ravenously, but one with words to chew and savor.
Conrad
Jan 10, 2012 Conrad rated it really liked it
It took me a lot longer to get through this book than I had imagined it would (with a few detours to read lighter fare), but I think it was because the subject matter requires the reader to really think about what has been set before him. If someone wants to truly understand the west - it's geography, ecology and such then I can't think of a better, more well-informed writer than Wallace Stegner to guide them.
My only drawback to this book was that since it is a collection of essays, some of the
...more
Christopher
Aug 25, 2014 Christopher rated it liked it
This is a fine collection of Stegner's work. It includes some of his best known works (like his Wilderness Letter). It is full of his historian's hat, his conservationist fire, and also some great memories of childhood.

I think the three stars reflects that only that I generally don't love collections of essays and also that I'd encountered a good number of them in other places (notably Wolf Willow).

This isn't a must read for Stegner fans. Some other reviews I read spoke about the nostalgia and
...more
Kim Godard
Jan 06, 2011 Kim Godard rated it it was amazing
This book of essays was bittersweet. Stegner's evocative language made me sad that the American West, particularly the middle reaches of the Colorado River altered by the building of Hoover Dam, is no longer available to me or my children or their children. The sweet was that he could describe it vividly, so at least I have a mental picture of what's now drowned. But it does make me ask myself, did we really need a huge lake for water-skiing, houseboating, etc.? Are we better off now that the ...more
John Benson
Jun 06, 2016 John Benson rated it really liked it
This is a book of some long forgotten and some well-known essays compiled by Wallace Stegner's son, Page. The first section are mostly autobiographical essays and travel pieces; the second section brings out some of his key essays on conservation and the American West; and the book ends with a novella on ranching life in Saskatchewan at the turn of the last century. As with all collections like this, some really are spectacular and others are not as good. It is a good introduction/retrospective ...more
Linda
Sep 03, 2009 Linda rated it liked it
This is not actually a book with a story but a compilation of essays. I really struggled to read them and only did so because it was the book group read and I was determined. Wallace Stegner was a very knowledgeable man who led a very impressive life. I appreciated the book alot more once I learned about who he was, his passions and his life. The last section of this book is a story that I did enjoy reading. I know he has authored other books that are actual stories that others have really ...more
Amy
Jul 17, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: gave-up-on
This is a series of essays about Stegner's time in "the West" -- from growing up in Saskatchewan and Salt Lake City to adventures in the West, such as running the Colorado and San Juan Rivers with Norm Nevill. For those of us who have run the San Juan, the description of running the Colorado through the now-underwater canyons below Lake Powell, the book is sweet and despairing at the same time. Through it all, though, Stegner's descriptions are clear and picturesque.
The later essays are more pol
...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Photographer and author Stephen Trimble recommended this as part of the Rocky Mountain Land Library's "A Reading List For the President Elect: A Western Primer for the Next Administration".
Bern J
May 27, 2013 Bern J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It's all good. The story "Genesis" is especially good; some say it's his finest. You say the life of a cowboy is romantic? Read this story & think again.
David Becker
Sep 11, 2012 David Becker rated it liked it
Early essays on the nature of the West are lyrical, cogent and persuasive, as is Stegner's stirring defense of the fledgling environmental movement.
Tina
Jan 15, 2013 Tina rated it really liked it
Occasionally repetitive, but understanding since it was a posthumous compilation of stories and memoirs.
Dave Holte
Dave Holte rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2010
C.T.
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Nov 21, 2016
Tamara
Tamara rated it really liked it
Nov 15, 2009
Bob
Bob rated it really liked it
Apr 27, 2012
Tanya Ignacio
Tanya Ignacio rated it it was amazing
Jun 15, 2012
Jeff Sessions
Jeff Sessions rated it really liked it
Feb 21, 2008
Marian
Marian rated it it was amazing
Mar 09, 2008
Beverly Igleburger
Beverly Igleburger rated it it was amazing
Apr 01, 2013
Carrie Cooper
Carrie Cooper rated it liked it
Mar 16, 2013
Jessica Roulston
Jessica Roulston rated it it was amazing
Jul 19, 2015
ehme
ehme rated it liked it
Mar 09, 2008
J
J rated it really liked it
Apr 21, 2016
chelsea pennick
chelsea pennick rated it it was amazing
Mar 15, 2008
Angie
Angie rated it it was amazing
Mar 27, 2008
Carol Dimitriou
Carol Dimitriou rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2014
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Wallace Earle Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers." He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.
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